Governor's open house draws crowds despite snow

As snow fell Saturday afternoon, Greg Osborn and his 8-year-old daughter, Maddie, were among the guests waiting in a line that stretched along State Circle for a peek inside Gov. Larry Hogan and first lady Yumi Hogan’s Annapolis residence.

The Hogans welcomed guests into the governor’s mansion for an annual holiday open house, and Saturday’s weather did not stop guests like the Osborns from traveling to downtown Annapolis to have their photos taken with the state’s first family, snack on holiday cookies and admire the decor.

Several inches of snow blanketed the house with an extra layer of holiday charm.

“I think it adds to it, just with the holiday season,” said Osborn, 39, a Glen Burnie resident who was attending the event for the first time. “With the Christmas trees and stuff like that, the wreaths — it adds to the whole atmosphere.”

Seven rooms in the house, including the dining room, drawing room and conservatory, were open to the public and adorned with garlands, wreaths, lights and ornaments. The Hogans greeted guests in the foyer and posed for photos near a towering tree. From there, guests passed through to the dining room, where a long table was piled with dozens of cookies, book-ended by hot-cider stations on either end.

Throughout the afternoon, scores from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “The Nutcracker” and other traditional holiday tunes filled the halls as high school musical groups played for guests. Performers included a string quartet from Northern High School and ensembles from South River High School.

Annapolis residents Chuck and Kim Meier, who arrived with their 4-month-old son, Charlie, said they were happy to be at the open house for the first time after living in Annapolis for four years.

“We keep saying we’re going to make it out each year,” Kim Meier said. “We were looking forward to this all year, we’ve been saying all year we would come this year.”

“It’s very pretty and well put together,” Chuck Meier said.

Two trees inside the home were strung with lights and ornaments, and the fireplaces and windows were draped with garlands and bows.

“It’s really beautiful,” said Andrea Zimmerman, 25, who was in Maryland from Orlando, Fla., visiting family.

She came with her father, Mark Zimmerman, 59, who was attending the open house for the second time. They said the snow didn’t mar their travel from Bel Air.

“Not often you get a chance to get this close to the governor, that was pretty cool,” he said. “We just think it’s really nice that they open their home to us.”

Attendees were given commemorative ornaments from Salisbury Fine Metal Artisans, and staff members at the event were also selling ornaments designed by Yumi Hogan to benefit the Foundation for the Preservation of Government House of Maryland Inc.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, was there with his 7-year-old twin boys, Dean and Cary. It was their first time visiting the holiday open house.

“It’s awesome. I saw they were having an open house, and we’re kind of in the holiday spirit, so any time we can get out and have the kids see some festive activities, we’re all about about it,” Davis said. “I think the kids got a kick out of it because it’s such a huge house.”

While a number of guests were visiting for the first time, Teri Kotkiewicz, 56, of Severna Park, estimated she had stopped by the open house five of the 14 years she’s lived in Maryland.

“It’s always much more crowded, so the weather probably held it up,” Kotkiewicz said.

A total of 1,134 people came through the open house, according to a spokeswoman for Hogan’s office. The line outside had died down by 3:30 p.m., and the snow continued to fall.

Kotkiewicz, along with Sue Maloney, 61, and Julie Reiter, 53, also from Severna Park, had their pictures taken with the first family.

“It just is beautiful and lovely, and the governor and his wife are very gracious,” Kotkiewicz said. “And the cookies are phenomenal.”

It was the first time for Maloney and Reiter.

“I would come back,” Maloney said.

“I would move in,” Kotkiewicz replied.

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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