This Saturday, a sleigh-full of holiday activities will take place in Ocean View as part of an effort to help the community get into the holiday spirit, from Christmas in the 1800s to singing carols in the park.
The Ocean View Historical Society will be hosting “An Old Fashioned Christmas,” to help raise funds for the continued renovations on the historic buildings at the Tunnell-West complex.
“We just got the idea,” said Barbara Slavin, who serves on the board of the historical society. “We thought it would be a good approach to introduce more people to the Tunnell-West complex.”
The event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 14, from noon to 3 p.m., and tickets cost $10 per person, with children 12 or younger admitted free of charge.
“The three buildings there at the complex — the Tunnell-West house, the old post office from 1889, and one is the poultry house — tickets will be sold at the old post office on the complex.”
Slavin said that the Tunnell-West house will be decorated for the holiday as it would have been in the 1860s, when the house was built.
“We’re going to do a lot of natural greens. We’ve set the table and gotten some little fake trees that will be placed around and some real trees that will be going around, as well.”
Docents will be placed around the complex to help educate visitors on the three historic buildings, as well as answer any specific questions they may have.
“They’ll be explaining where the furniture came from and the history of house, post office and poultry house.”
Those who attend may also enjoy light refreshments while touring the complex.
“There will be light refreshments, and we’re going to try to make them appropriate to the time period. For instance, we’ll be serving mulled cider and eggnog,” said Slavin.
Those who attend Saturday’s historical society event may then show their admission ticket on Dec. 14 or 15 at the Den at Bear Trap Dunes to receive a 20 percent discount on food.
Slavin said the historical society is continuing to raise funds in order to move toward their goal of having an educational complex available to the public.
“Our mission is to renew and restore the complex to the point of being able to open it to the public and make it available for historical tours. We’re pretty close to that, in that we have everything furnished, except for the post office,” she said. “We have hopes of getting school groups, Cub Scout groups and even adult groups to come through the historical complex and enjoy the educational offerings.”
Slavin is the great-great-granddaughter of John and Sallie Tunnell and the great-granddaughter of George Handy and Eliza Ann Tunnell West, who owned the eponymous Tunnell-West house. She said that the historical society has more than 100 members and holds various events throughout the year.
“We have a lecture about three times a year, and the groups who attend those have always been substantial. They always focus on local topics regarding the coastal towns.”
The next lecture will be held at Ocean View town hall on Jan. 15 at 7 p.m., with a presentation of the origins of Sussex County and the evolution of a hamlet called Hall’s Store into what is now Ocean View.
Slavin said that she hopes members of the community will attend the Old Fashioned Christmas and get into the holiday spirit while learning a little bit about the area’s history.
“Basically we’re trying to expose the community to this exciting adventure that we’re embarking on and giving the community a chance to see what life was like in the 1800s.”
Also on Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m., the Town of Ocean View will hold Holiday in the Park, at town hall and in John West Park.
“Santa will arrive on the fire truck and come into town hall to visit with the children,” said Town Manager Dianne Vogel. “Last year, he provided little reading books and candy canes to all of the children, and he will be doing the same this year.”
Vogel said the event, which is free and open to the public, will be a bit different from the Caroling in the Park held in years past.
“I just thought it was time to change the format a little bit. So, instead of having it so late in the evening and just having the caroling, I wanted to add some other interesting items to the event,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to offer something a little bit different for people who want to enjoy the holidays.”
Also at town hall, kids can enjoy face painting and animal balloons, while also seeing a train layout provided by the Delaware SeaSide Railroad Club.
Those who attend may also enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies while visiting with Santa.
“Around 5 o’clock, we’ll have him lead everyone outside for the tree lighting, along with some caroling.”
At 5:30 p.m., members of Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church will also have their live nativity in the park, as well.
“We really hope we get a good turnout with the children,” said Vogel. “I think it offers something for everyone of every age, from caroling, the exhibits of the historical society and the living nativity scene.”
To learn more about the Tunnell-West House or to make a donation, visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org. The Tunnell-West House is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View. John West Park is located at 32 West Avenue in Ocean View. For more information, call (302) 539-9797 or visit them online at www.oceanviewde.com.