A beloved holiday event returned to the North Pocono area on December 1 and 2 as the historic Moffat Mansion was once again filled with a festive spirit of fun for the annual Covington Twp. Christmas Open House.

Now in its twelfth year, the Christmas Open House was held from noon until 4 p.m. both days at the Moffat Estate. The annual Christmas Open House is brought to the North Pocono community each year through the efforts of the Covington Twp. Recreation Committee

The Christmas Open House is held each year inside the beautifully preserved former home of Robert Y. Moffat, Jr., who bequeathed the mansion and its grounds to the community after his death in 2002. Through Moffat’s generosity and because of his desire to keep the land undeveloped, the township inherited the house and forty-two acres of land to be used in a way that would benefit the community.

Mr. Moffat’s former home now serves as the location of the township offices, with an enclosed pavilion, a playground, and a covered bridge near the estate’s pond added to the grounds to create recreation opportunities for township residents. The township fulfills Mr. Moffat’s directive of enhancing life in the township each year by hosting the Christmas Open House and other events such as a fishing derby for children, an end-of-summer fun day, and in 2018, the township’s bicentennial celebration.

As always, this year’s event featured several time-honored traditions and activities that township residents have come to expect and enjoy.

The Open House kicked off on both days with Santa and Mrs. Claus’s arrival in a horse-drawn carriage. The wreath-festooned wagon, which was pulled by a team of impressively-sized draft horses named Doc and Mike, was used to provide rides through the charming estate grounds.

Most of the Open House activities took place inside the historic Moffat Mansion, which was beautifully decorated with jolly holiday garlands, sparkling ornaments, colored lights, and Christmas trees. The focus of the event is on the children of the community, so the organizers of the Christmas Open House provide a number of activities geared towards kids.

Children were able to participate in several fun activities, including making holiday crafts with the help of volunteers and creating pinecone bird feeders with help from area Boy Scouts. Light refreshments were served in the mansion’s dining room through both days of the open house.

No holiday event would be complete without a visit from Santa (Bill Beavers), who was on hand with Mrs. Claus (Joyce Hatala) to pose for pictures with children at the event. Each child who visited Santa received a gift bag and candy cane from Mrs. Claus. Pictures were printed by Boy Scout volunteers from Troop 132 of Spring Brook and were available to take home within minutes.

In addition to the township Christmas tree, a stately Korean balsam hybrid fir donated by the Christmas Tree Farm at Pine Hill Nursery, the Red Hatters and other groups had decorated trees on display inside the mansion. Other Christmas trees decorated by area groups, businesses, and organizations were displayed in the Hall of Trees located in the pavilion near the playground.

Marlene Beavers, a member of the Recreation Committee who helped to organize the event, said she expected a good turnout this year. “We had 350 gift bags for the kids last year and we ran out halfway through, so this year we did 500,” remarked Mrs. Beavers.

Many people are drawn to the event year after year, making it a family holiday tradition. That’s what Mary Ann Ward of Madison Twp. hoped to do. Attending the event for the first time with her daughter, Marissa Keiper, and grandsons Liam and Evan, she said she looks forward to attending yearly as the children grow.

“This is our first year here. We came because they have Santa inside the mansion and because of the horse and wagon ride. This reminds us of an old-fashioned Christmas and we felt like it would be a nice tradition to start coming here,” explained Mrs. Ward. Judging by the number of visitors to the Christmas Open House, Mrs. Ward is not the only North Pocono resident whose family includes a visit to the Moffat Estate as part of their holiday fun.