Christmas at Grand Oaks to support college scholarships Sunday
by Marie Nesmith
Nov 18, 2010 | 2235 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Gathered around Grand Oaks’ third floor Christmas tree are, left, Nelda Lewis, Ray Thacker and Richard Hunt.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Gathered around Grand Oaks’ third floor Christmas tree are, left, Nelda Lewis, Ray Thacker and Richard Hunt. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Holiday decorating has turned into an art form at Grand Oaks. In preparation for its open house on Sunday, the venue's staff has transformed the late 1800s Greek revival residence into a winter wonderland.

"We start usually in October, sometimes at the end of September, just assembling our products and shopping at different wholesale houses trying to get new ideas, get inspired, figure out what we're going to do," said Nelda Lewis, floral designer for Grand Oaks. "Usually Richard Hunt, Ray [Thacker] and myself, all of us do that process.

"Of course with it being a green economy right now, we try to recycle and use as much as we can. But [we] basically just try to change the concept, change the design technique to make it new and fresh and different from year to year. ... [What I enjoy the most is] the camaraderie that Richard and Ray and I have. Even though the time can be hectic, we all find a joy in just being able to be decorative and bounce ideas off of each other and try to make things beautiful and unexpected."

On Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m., a $10 admission fee will enable each guest to be treated to refreshments and musical performances, while viewing a plethora of decorations. The special-events venue, located at 302 W. Main St. in Cartersville, will be adorned with about 20 Christmas trees, embellished with more than 10,000 lights and thousands of ornaments.

"My favorite tree is probably the tree in the blue room, which is on the second floor," Lewis said. "It's a parlor room and it's in shades of blues and purples and greens and those are just my favorite colors. So that tends to be my favorite tree.

"[The ornaments are] varied in [formality] and there again, depending upon the theme of each room, if it's a formal dining room [or] library, the ornaments tend to be more formal than for instance the third floor, [which] is what I call just a combination of things. It's a very whimsical room so we use different types of materials and ornaments up there, more like an old-fashioned type Christmas. We make a lot of the ornaments and use old-timey type ornaments."

Proceeds from the event, titled Christmas at Grand Oaks, will help fund a scholarship that the venue's owner, Ray Thacker, and his siblings formed in memory of their parents, Hubert and Eva. Administered by the Etowah Scholarship Foundation, the memorial scholarship has annually awarded funds to recipients who have needed financial assistance since the 1980s.

"My father was a mechanic downtown back in the '30s and then my mom worked at E-Z Mills," Thacker said. "We're all from here. People in our family [were not] educated because we didn't have the opportunity to be educated because we were sharecroppers ... Out of the eight kids, there was only one that got a college education. ... We just appreciate the people that come and help us support the scholarship by coming to our open house."

For more information about Christmas at Grand Oaks, call 770-382-6322.