The Sun News Miami

Christmas at Florida's Grandest Mansion

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Christmas came to Whitehall in Palm Beach this week. Formally known as the Flagler Museum, the grand mansion hosts a Christmas tree lighting ceremony every year, with the tree being lit by a young descendant of Henry Flagler, who built Whitehall a century ago. The lead picture shows the two young girls on the right lfipping the switch to bring the tree to life for Christmas.

This is the first time since the mansion was built that Thanksgiving, Hannukah and the start of the Christmas season have all fallen on the same weekend, as Whitehall traditionally lights the tree on the first Sunday of December.

Concert organist Patty KellyConcert organist Patty KellyVisitors on December 1 were also regaled by the sounds of an organ that is built into the Music room. Several Christmas classics incuding Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer were performed by Patty Kelly, who has been playing the organ for nearly 40 years. With a degree in music from the Univ. of Iowa, she brought both expertise and a delightful delivery to the audience.

Combined with music in the drawing room by a concert pianist, and a performance by a choir in the main room of the mansion, the hundreds of people who attended enjoyed the very best kick-off to the Christmas season that Florida has to offer.

Holiday Evening Tours
December 18 and 19: Tours begin at 7:15 p.m. and 7:25 p.m.
December 20 and 21: Tours begin at 7:05 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 7:25 p.m.
December 22 and 23: Tours begin at 6:50 p.m., 7:05 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 7:25 p.m.
$25 for adults
$15 for children ages 17 and under
Advance purchase required

During this beloved annual event, families tour Whitehall after hours and discover the origins of American Christmas traditions. Guests will have a rare opportunity to see Whitehall by the glow of the original 1902 light fixtures. Every visitor will receive a traditional Christmas cracker following the tour. A choral group will sing carols and holiday refreshments will be served. The Museum Store will remain open for holiday shopping.


Clifford Cunningham

Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist currently affiliated with the National Astronomical Research Institute. He did his PhD work in the history of astronomy at James Cook University, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. He is the author of 12 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honour by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1990.

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