By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
Pictured above are Santa and his helpers – elves and reindeer – waiting to greet children at last year’s Breakfast with Santa at Tygart Lake State Park’s Christmas Open House event. Santa and his North Pole friends will again this year be on hand to visit with the children who have been nice little boys and girls.
You can go walkin’ in a “Winter Woodland Wonderland” indoors or outdoors this holiday season at Tygart Lake State Park.
The three “w”s’ themed holiday celebration at the state park located near Grafton in Taylor County, kicked off November 28 with Christmas decorations and lights “all aglow” throughout the 20-room lodge and the newly-positioned Apple Annie’s restaurant, which replaced the Boston Beanery, within the lodge.
Nichole Streets, Park Activities Coordinator and Naturalist, said the “Winter Woodland Wonderland” theme is displayed inside with interior niches decorated with woodland creatures made by a local artist via brush art (a straw or straw-like medium).
“Most of the decorations throughout the lodge are made by West Virginia artisans,” Streets stated.
A feature piece of the Winter Woodland Wonderland theme is a decorated real full-size canoe. “It has a festive woodland scene within it,” she described.
As a naturalist, this type of holiday decor showcases Streets’ year-round interest in introducing guests to outdoor recreation and nature-based activities.
“It fits with what we are,” she stated. “We’re in a nature setting, so we like to bring that indoors a lot.”
And outside … the festive lights and decorations that adorn the lodge and grounds are jaw-dropping as well, Streets reports. “Visitors will be surprised when they round the curve arriving at Tygart Lodge to see it lit up like the Griswolds’ (from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” movie),” she exclaimed.
The Christmas Open House on Saturday, Dec. 12 is a main attraction for adults and children. It begins with Breakfast with Santa at Apple Annie’s restaurant from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. And during this time children can also visit Santa’s Workshop for craft time. For $1 for the materials, children can create an affordable kid-made gift for family members.
“We love this event because it’s an opportunity for families to spend time together during the holidays,” Streets said. “Plus, we like to see that smile on a kid’s face – that makes everything worthwhile.”
Apple Annie’s restaurant, which has been at the lodge since early November, is a welcome part of the park, Streets reports: “They have a wide variety of amazing desserts. That’s what they’re known for.” She said her particular favorite is the Red Velvet cake. Soups, sandwiches and daily specials are also on the menu.
Streets noted that she and other Tygart Lake staff “flip” the lodge every year from Thanksgiving pumpkins and cornucopias to Christmas decor the day after Turkey Day festivities are over. “When guests walk in Saturday morning, it’s completely finished!” she stated.
Tygart Lake State Park Lodge and restaurant are open all year, so its facilities are available for private/corporate holiday parties and all-year for other gatherings in their conference room. The lodge overlooks Tygart Lake and Tygart Marina.
Ten of the park’s 11 vacation cabins are open from mid-April through December 31. One cabin, Cabin #11, is open all year and is handicapped accessible. The campground is seasonal.
Streets and other park staff organize and conduct a wide variety of special weekend packages and events throughout the year, including some upcoming New Year’s celebrations.
For more information about Winter Woodland Winterland at the park, Christmas Open House or other park activities and events, call (304) 265-6144 or visit tygartlake.com.