Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

November 25, 2012

Hundreds flock to Seiberling Mansion for traditional lighting ceremony

Just before sundown, people flocked Saturday to the Seiberling Mansion on West Sycamore Street for a tradition like no other - the annual “Christmas at the Seiberling” lighting ceremony.

Families and couples huddled on the lawn and along the mansion’s sidewalk trying to keep warm as they anxiously awaited the countdown.

“I just wanted to see this building,” said Sam Clever, 9, who is attending his first lighting ceremony with his mother, Lynn Clever.

“Especially the third floor,” said Sam. “It looks like the gas tower.”

“Plus, we wanted to see the lights and it’s always good to see Santa,” said Lynn.

J.R. and Dallas Williams came to see the annual lighting out of a sense of community spirit.

“It’s our civic duty,” said Dallas Williams. “This is a good way to kick off the holiday spirit after Thanksgiving. Plus, we wanted to hear the choir sing.”

Dallas Williams said they’ve always admired the architecture of the mansion.

“It’s a beautiful mansion,” said Dallas.

As the clock struck 6 p.m., excitement began building among the crowd as two horse drawn sleighs - one carrying Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus - rolled down Kingston Road toward the mansion.

“There’s Santa,” several kids yelled as Santa climbed out of the carriage.

Before the lights came on, Paul Wyman, who sponsors the annual event, and Mayor Greg Goodnight welcomed the large crowd before leading the group in a countdown.

“Bring it on,” Goodnight said, as the crowd counted down from 10.

The mansion then “magically” lit up.

“Come on in and have some egg nog,” Wyman said, as the crowd poured into the mansion.

The lighting ceremony has been a tradition for many families in Kokomo and surrounding areas, said Dave Broman, executive director of the Howard County Historical Society.

“It’s a tradition that’s important to a lot of people,” he said. “This is all done by the volunteers and the staff. They do an excellent job.”

Broman didn’t know exactly how many lights adorn the interior and exterior of the mansion just that “it’s a lot.”

“Bill Baldwin has been hanging the lights for two months,” he said. “The inside took about a month to decorate.”

Sandy Grant, a longtime volunteer at the mansion, said the tradition is so important for some that one mother even made a book showing the progression of their son, Bennie Weitzell’s six years of coming to the mansion.

“That’s how important it is to people,” said Grant.

The mansion will remain open through the holiday season from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays for those wishing to take tours. Admission is $4 for adults, and $1 for children.

All the money raised during the Seiberling’s holiday season events will go toward the historical society.

For more information about the activities at the mansion call 765-452-4314.

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