For a touch of sweet, old-fashioned Christmas this year, go to Galesville.
The little riverfront town's Christmas tour offers such sentimental beauties as the United Methodist Church, decorated during the traditional "hanging of the green," a historic ceremony in which everyone in the church decks the sanctuary with flowers and candles.
Highlights of the 12-home tour include a visit to a private houserecently remodeled from a restaurant that overlooks the West River, as well as Miss Ida's House, once a bed-and-breakfast place called the Shady Lawn Inn that provided a haven for steamboat travelers.
Visitors may dance through a bit of history at the Pavilion, a home that was once the Galesville dance hall. Or they can pretend they're sailing into the sunset aboard a 75-foot yacht owned by Earl Hargrove, who coordinates decorations for inaugural balls throughout the world.
"This is not his permanent home, but his floating home," says Sheila Gallagher, chairwoman of the house tour publicity committee. Another more contemporary home on the tour burned to the ground last Christmas day but has been rebuilt and redecorated.
The tour is scheduled for Sunday from 1 p.m to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $7 for adults, $6 forsenior citizens and children 12 and under.
"I'd been to other house tours and liked the idea, and I think our community is special," says Gallagher. "We may be the only village in South County. You have to come into our community; you don't drive through it. There's one road in and one road out. It has boundaries. So we thought a house tour would be a neat idea."
The community, now about 700 residents ina square-mile area, dates back more than three centuries.
The town became Galesville in honor of Richard Gale, a Quaker planter who accompanied William Penn on his visit to West River in 1682. Though thepeninsula's occupations of crabbing and fishing have changed with the times, one unchanged fixture is the Galesville United Methodist Church, home for more than 150 years to the community's staunch Methodists.
The church was decorated with poinsettias, greenery and candles at a special service last week, Gallagher says.
"When we start, the building is practically naked and the congregation, from the smallest child to the most elderly adult, participates in decorating," she explains. Young people placed a manger scene on the altar; others decorated the Christmas tree.
The tour will begin and end at the decorated church at 4825 Church Lane in Galesville. The community is located in southern Anne Arundel County at routes 468 and 255.
Tickets for the house tour are on sale in Galesville at the West River Market, Riverview Galleries and the church.
Each tour guest will receive refreshments made by church members, as well as a booklet with pictures of the homes and a description of their backgrounds.
For example, the Poplar Knowle Farm, built at the turn of the century, is athree-story country Victorian farmhouse.
The Fat Crab and the Chuckling Oyster were two restaurants that held residence in what had been a marina, a home on the tour that offers a beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay. Another home on the tour, a brick colonial built in the early 1900s, was built with timbers brought by boat from a nearby razed hotel.
Visitors will walk or ride to the tour, depending on the weather, says Gallagher. For more information, call 867-7441.