Lights, Camera, Christmas: Tree Lighting Makes Governor’s Mansion Shine

This Sunday Governor Deal kicks off the holiday season with his annual Christmas lighting Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal
This Sunday Governor Deal kicks off the holiday season with his annual Christmas lighting Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal
This Sunday Governor Deal kicks off the holiday season with his annual Christmas lighting
Photo by Dayne Francis | The Signal

The Christmas season seems to start earlier every year, with garlands and wreaths popping up before the Halloween costumes are even packed away. This year you can kick off your holiday season with a celebration at the Governor’s Mansion. Nathan Deal and his family have opened their home to the public for a special Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m., in order to celebrate the holidays in style with their fellow Georgians. A special series of Holiday Tours will follow in the weeks after the lighting.

The tours will include a viewing of all the official rooms in the mansion, each decorated in an array of flowers and lavish Christmas trees. The Deputy Director of the Governor’s Mansion, Kat Bakhaus, said there would be eight trees in all, each “decorated to represent different governors and their families who have lived in the mansion.” Tours will begin after the lighting ceremony, which will also include an instrumental performance by the 116th Army Band to “get people in the mood,”, according to Bakhaus. The lighting will be followed by a choral performance from the Georgia Boys’ Choir in the ballroom, which will have an array of cookies and cider following the recital. Katie Deal, the governor’s daughter, will also be performing her rendition of a song made popular by Kermit the Frog.

Additionally, Bakhaus emphasized “a really neat Hanukkah display” that will be hosted by the First Lady, Sandra Deal, on Sunday Dec. 13. Several prominent members of the Jewish community, including the Israeli Consulate General, Vernai Shorer, and Rabbi Spike Anderson, will be in attendance. There will be a performance by the Temple Emanu-el youth choir, Shir Hachovim, which will culminate in the lighting of a century-old menorah borrowed from the Bremen Museum.

While the tours are free, the Deal family requests that all visitors bring a toy with them to donate to their Toys for Tots campaign this Christmas. All toys collected on the tour will be donated by the Deal family to the local preschool community. Toys can be dropped off during the tour or at any point during tour hours, if you don’t wish to participate in the tour itself.

Even though the Holiday Tours are aimed at emphasizing the joy of the season, Bakhaus hopes to offer folks a little history, too.The Greek-revival style house was built in 1967 and spans an impressive 24,000 square feet. While the tour will allow the public access to the lower level and the main floor, the tour excludes the second floor, which houses the First Family’s private living quarters. All of the furniture in the home was chosen by a specialized art committee as the epitome of the Federal Period and remains a permanent collection through every administration.

Overall, hopes are high for this year’s tree lighting, though Bakhaus could not comment on an apporoximate number of people expected to show up. Despite Governor Deal’s recent announcement that he would not be accepting refugees, Bakhaus insisted the Mansion is not expecting any protestors: “The goal is to experience fellowship with the people of Georgia.” The Holiday Tours are aimed at “[giving] people an escape” from what’s going on in other parts of the world, and, for one night at least, you can experience holiday cheer with the governor himself.


Governor’s Mansion

391 West Paces Ferry Rd NW

Atlanta, GA 30305

Christmas Tour Hours:

Dec. 7 – 18


Monday – Friday: 9:30 – 11 a.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Sunday: 2 – 4 p.m.

Groups of 10 or more should call 404.261.1776.

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