Creativity Magazine

Mount Vernon By Candlelight

Posted on the 19 December 2012 by Msadams @HilaryFerrell

Since Mr. A and I live in DC, we always have a plethora of activities to pick from during the holidays.  Because we have such a variety, we like to try out a new activity every year.  One year we watched the Christmas Boat Parade in Old Town.  Another year we went to see a Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theater.  Last year we went to see some local lights.  This year I wanted to continue our tradition by surprising the hubby with something extra special.

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Mr. A had been talking about doing a special tour at Mount Vernon that’s only available during Christmas, Mount Vernon by Candlelight.  This tour allows visitor to see the grounds and the house after the sun has set and it is lit only by candlelight.  So I decided to buy tickets for this weekend and surprised Mr. A with them a few hours before our tour was scheduled.

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He was completely surprised and really excited to be able to do something he had been thinking about for awhile.  We arrived at Mount Vernon right at our scheduled time (they offer tickets by time entry for this event).  We thought our tour would start right away but we actually were assigned a different group when we arrived and were told to explore the visitors center while we waited for our group to be called.

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Luckily, the visitors center had a lot of Christmas themed displays to explore.  Our favorite were the Christmas trees that were stationed throughout the center.  Each tree had a special theme that represented an aspect of George Washington’s life.

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We especially loved this president’s tree which had portraits of some famous American presidents strew throughout.

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Towards the end of the lobby, these three ladies were stationed playing colonial era instruments singing traditional Christmas songs.

After a few songs, our group was called and we were led up to the house by our tour guide.  On our walk up to the house, our tour guide stopped several times to share a couple stories about George and the property.  Having toured the mansion a few times, I was afraid that we might hear some repeated information but we actually heard a few new things this time around.  Oddly enough, this was the first time we learned the origin of Mount Vernon’s name.  George’s brother renamed the estate Mount Vernon after a British naval officer that he served under and admired.  When George inherited the estate, he decided to keep the name–pretty ironic considering the role George played in the revolution.

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We attempted to take a few pictures of the estate but it was nearly impossible given how dark it was outside.  If you stare really hard you can see the porches on either side and the house in the middle.  They weren’t kidding about the candlelight bit.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take any pictures once we got inside the house (their rules).  But inside, we were taken through the first and second floors, where we stopped three times to hear stories from Martha Washington, George’s granddaughter, and George’s granddaughter’s suitor.  Each Christmas, Mount Vernon likes to take a specific year to replicate. This year, they chose the year that George’s granddaughter fell in love with her soon-to-be husband.

I was a tad disappointed with this part of the tour.  We’ve seen the house several times and typically you get an explanation of each room. This time we were left to fend for ourselves except in the rooms were the three special guests were located.  It was a cool concept but it lack some depth.

Once the tour of the house was over, our tour guide told us that we were free to checkout the open outbuildings: the blacksmith house, and the greenhouse (which had period style dancing).

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Since we had already seen the blacksmith in previous visits, we did a quick drop in. The dancing, on the other hand, was way too dark to take pictures of but once again nothing to write home about.

On our walk back to the visitors center, we were given a complimentary cup of apple cider and a gingerbread cookie, which was make appreciated in the cold weather.

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Before we made it back to the visitors center, we also dropped by the camel’s cage.  Every Christmas, Mount Vernon has a camel onsite to visit with the guests.  Apparently, one Christmas George Washington rented out a camel and brought it to Mount Vernon to entertain his guests.  So the foundation likes to continue the tradition. She was definitely the friendliest camel that I’ve ever seen (not that I’ve seen that many) and she kept stealing everyone’s cider cups.

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Successfully having avoided a camel spitting incident, we returned back to the visitors center.  At this point, we were allowed to walk through the museum.  Since we had already walked through it in previous visits, we opted to skip this part too.

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Instead, we enjoyed a few Christmas tunes from this adorable family. Yes, that’s a little girl singing/playing recorder and yes, I wanted to steal her.

With that, our candlelight tour was over.  It was nice to be able to do something different this Christmas but I definitely wouldn’t do this tour again.  If you are planning on visiting Mount Vernon for the first time, I wouldn’t recommend doing this tour.  Instead, you should just do a regular tour during the day.  You will be able to see a lot more Christmas decorations around the estate and get a better tour of the house.  And as an added bonus, you will actually be able to take pictures that come out icon smile Mount Vernon By Candlelight

Regardless of the letdown of the tour, Mr. A as really happy with his gift.  Point one for the wifey!

Have you ever visited Mount Vernon?  What did you think?

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