Vienna to host 34th Luminara event Saturday

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Special to The Dorchester Banner/Harry Rinehart Vienna Luminarias light up Water & Race streets.

VIENNA – This Saturday, the town of Vienna once again opens its doors for the 34th annual Luminaria event. From 5 to 9 p.m. walk the streets, ride the free Vienna tram, or drive and enjoy the 1,500 luminaries and the decorated homes. Stop along the way to see the museum, visit historical buildings, enjoy entertainment at churches, talk to Santa, and enjoy the refreshments. At least five of the decorated homes will be open to those with house tour tickets.
Headquarters for the evening will be the Vienna Heritage Museum located at 303 Race St. For those interested in the house tour, this must be the first stop as it is the only place to purchase tickets and get a map of locations for activities. House tour tickets are the only cost of the evening, $5 per person with those under 6 free. While at the museum, note the feather tree with old ornaments and a special exhibit of earlier toys. Enjoy the edibles and a hot drink. Always a highlight is the button making equipment from the last family-owned pearl button factory in the US. Owner Daniel Martinek has been invited to demonstrate.
A few doors away from the museum, at 307 Race St. is a house built by the Zachary Spear’s circa 1910. Remodeled in the 1990s by great-granddaughter and her husband. The present owner, Ted Bryant, has had to replace floors due to termite damage. Additional inside and outside work has been completed and he is looking forward to sharing his decorated house. In the driveway for auto buffs, find a 1964 Mustang with 38,000 original miles and a 1998 Maroon & Gold limousine. The limo is reported to have been owned by Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins.
Across the street from the museum at 302 Race St., Frank and Marcia Gosnell will be sharing their home built in 2000. Angels from treetop to ceramic await the visitor and a Santa or two may be in their company.
The Ewell House at the end of Race Street adjacent to the boat ramp contains perhaps the earliest house in Vienna. The middle 1 ½ story part with a Colonial fireplace and wood panels is circa 1760. The front part of the house, overlooking the Nanticoke River, was built in 1877 by Dr. Ewell who operated his practice from the house for about 50 years. A rear part was added in the 1980s with some remodeling restorations since then. Tim Brower and Brenda Bassford invite visitors to their decorated home to include a 1760 air.
Also find The Water Street Gallery. Elise and Harvey Altergott at 113 Water St. enjoy sharing their home which for many early years was a main center for Vienna hospitality. Operation as a tavern and inn began in the late 1700s. It was probably a welcomed sight as travelers came across the Nanticoke by ferry or the 1828 to 1860 bridge located almost in front of the building. Presently, the authentic and tastefully restored rooms not only contain nice furnishings but will, as for the past 20 some years, be full of a warm receptive spirit from the Altergott’s.
Lynn and Jewell Fluharty welcome guests to their home at 119 Water St. The house built in the early 1800s may have had earlier modifications, but two major renovations occurred in the last 53 years. After 1956, when Ruth and Russell Richardson purchased the house in poor condition, the two side chimneys were removed and the back raised to give a salt box design roof. From 2003 to 2006, Todd and Deborah Fischer extensively remodeled the house. The front porch and siding added in 2013 gives a more colonial outside look. Among their decorations inside, Ms. Fairbank, the wooden swan, will give a special silent welcome..
Songs of the season will begin at 6:30 pm at the 120-year-old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Church Street. Students from Vienna Elementary School, under the direction of Richard White, will be sharing their talent. Enjoy the hospitality of church members  in the 2008 Tillman-Wright Parish Hall.
Across the street, members of the 112-year-old Vienna United Methodist Church invite visitors to pause in their sanctuary as Bob Pinto plays the keyboard. As one takes in the beauty of  the poinsettias, pause and  reflect on the origins of the season. Stop by the back 1953 fellowship hall for refreshments from Katherine Allen and helpers. At about 7:30 p.m. Tom and Debbie Slaughter will enliven the fellowship hall with a special Christmas Concert including sing along Christmas Carols.
A special stop for “children” of all ages is the former ferry tenders house on Race Street. Santa Clause will welcome hearing the special wishes and will try to assist anyone who wants to take a picture. Or visitors to town  may just want to view the pictures from an earlier time on the walls or ponder how the small building served as the Town Hall for about 50 years after 1933.
The former Customs House can be visited at the corner of Church and Water Streets. Built about 1791and reported to be the oldest surviving Customs House, it serves as a reminder of Vienna’s founding in 1706 and its importance as an early port. From about 1768 to 1866 Vienna served as the official port for customs collection in the area, one of the three on the Eastern Shore.  Presently, the Customs House is furnished simply.
For ease of parking, the recommended place to start the evening activities is to park at the Edwin A Murphy Community Center at 104 Race St., adjacent to Santa’s house, or at the present Vienna Town Hall/Ballfield. The Vienna Town Hall is located at the end of Market Street and the beginning of Elliott Island Road. The free Vienna tram will take visitors to the Museum and to other spots in town.
The 1uminaria event accents Vienna’s hospitality and sharing at this special Christmas time. It also supports the long term custom of luminarias which seems to have originated in the US in the southwestern part of the United States by those of a Spanish decent. The exact origin of the  luminaria custom is unknown. One suggestion is that the Luminarias are symbolic of the shepherds’ bonfires the night Christ was born. Or it could be that they serve to guide the Christ Child to one’s door.
Sponsored by the Vienna Heritage Foundation with assistance of the Chicone Ruritan Club. Thanks go to the Chicone Ruritans and helpers who will be setting out at dusk and collecting later the luminarias.
Information is available from 410 376-3413.

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