Historical Independence mansion gears up for the holidays

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Volunteers at the historic Vaile Mansion will spend about a 1000 hours putting up Christmas decorations this year, turning it into a winter wonderland.

For 28 years decorators have dolled up the mansion for Christmas tours. They have worked together for so many mid-Novembers it has become like a family tradition.

"Every year we have a different theme and the decorators get all excited about it," said Ron Potter of the Vaile Mansion.

Peacock feathers, ribbon and snow drip from more than 75 trees. The designers live all year with a little bit of Christmas up their festive sleeves.

Hans Christian Anderson would be proud of the room his stories inspired. The snow queen, which was at one time used for a puppet show, proudly stands in one corner, adding a chill to the room that blows through the Christmas tree tops.

Col. and Mrs. Harvey Vaile spent years constructing what in 1881, was a modern day masterpiece sparing no expense.

"Hand painted ceilings and woodwork. They brought in artists from Germany, France and Italy to do murals on the ceiling.  They had running water and indoor bathrooms," said Potter.

Decorators try to stay true to the Victorian heritage from the hand cut paper snowflakes to the upside down Christmas trees that hang from the ceilings.

“It came from Queen Victoria who had a number of children grandchildren and dogs.  She had problems with the standup trees with the kids and dogs knocking them over and the dogs eating the ornaments so she decided to just hang them upside down from the ceiling where nobody could play with them and she could still enjoy them," said Pam Slade, a decorator.

While the finishing touches are put on these rooms, decorators are already concocting Christmas cheer for next year.

"Oh the next five years, I have my plans for the next five," said Slade.

The Vaile Mansion in Independence is open from the day after Thanksgiving until December 30th. They offer tours daily.

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