The big pig gig: Decorating at the Manor HouseWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Lou Kroll’s pig collection started as a joke between in-laws.
My uncle made a comment about marrying into a family that used to be farmers. Then he took a photo of pigs, turned it into a postcard and sent it to my mom. A year later, he returned from Greece with a small, marble oinker.
And it was on. The hogs began showing up for her birthdays and all holidays, including National Pig Day, which is March 1.
So when my mom passed in 2008, my dad was left with a lifetime of memories — and a house full of nearly four decades’ worth of pigs.
As a major contributor of swine, I haven’t wanted to disband the herd. Visions of a pig museum wallowed in my mind; that might work if our family was rich and lived in Iowa or Cincinnati, also known as Porkopolis.
Still wanting to show off her litter, I thought about how my mom loved to visit the decorated Manor House at Wildwood Preserve Metropark in December. When her health was good, she walked daily in the park, which was just down the street from the house.
Last winter, I sent an application to be a decorator; in the spring, I was invited for an interview, where I was asked to explain my concept and show some decorations.
I think the Manor House representatives were overwhelmed by the four-minute slideshow that had more than 100 images of porkers celebrating the yuletide. They thanked me and said they’d let me know in a month or two.
A letter arrived and said the pigs were in; at first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. The piggies were assigned the master bathroom.
When I called my sister to share the news, there was a long pause, then Marcia said, “I don’t know where the public restrooms are.”
I should have been specific and said “master bathroom.” For the record, the public restroom is in the basement.
In retrospect, the master bathroom turned out to be perfect: My mom’s collection included toilet paper with pigs on it. Really.
If you want to see porcine décor du jour, stop by Holidays at the Manor House at Wildwood Preserve Metropark Dec. 4-11 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is free.
Some other themes featured in the 34 decorated areas of the Georgian Colonial mansion include a cabin holiday, old-timey Santa Clauses and an artful Christmas.
This is the 36th year for the event, which draws some 15,000 visitors annually and is made possible by more than 500 volunteers, according to Beckie Finch, programs director at Metroparks of the Toledo Area.
“I love that [Holidays at the Manor House] really is a tradition,” she said. “We have families and different groups and sometimes businesses that come back year after year; they just love it.”
Don’t forget to bring new mittens, gloves, hats and scarves to decorate a tree in the basement. Everything on the mitten tree will be donated to Toledo Public Schools and distributed to children in need, Finch said.
The holiday café and craft show also will take place in Metroparks Hall during the week. There will be a trolley to carry visitors from the parking lots to the front door of the Manor House.
Once inside, be prepared to see a small part of my mom’s piggery.