Bok Tower Gardens ready to ring in the holidays

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Pinewood Estate at Bok Tower Gardens

Pinewood Estate, at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, will be adorned for holiday cheer. (ORLANDO SENTINEL / November 11, 2007)

Bok Tower Gardens, an iconic old-school Florida tourist destination any time of the year, is always especially lovely during the holidays.

This year, " Christmas Memories" will be the theme for the Gardens' 16th annual Christmas at Pinewood holiday home tour, running Friday-Jan. 2 at the Lake Wales attraction. The idea is to transport visitors back in time to experience holiday traditions through festive decorations in the 20-room Mediterranean-style mansion built in the early 1930s.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Pinewood Estate is considered one of the finest examples of Mediterranean-style architecture in Florida.

Here's a sample of what you'll see on the holiday tour:

Hallways will be adorned with "Victorian Reflections," an array of pearls, crystals and handmade Victorian ornaments. Visitors can glimpse a re-creation of a holiday table in the dining room and a "Garden of Gratitude" in the office once used by steel magnate C. Austin Buck, who used the estate as a winter retreat in the 1930s.

In the living room, a forest of trees is the backdrop for recorded music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. There's more indoor landscaping upstairs, in a "Parade of Trees" display.

New this year, "Letters to Santa" will provide funds for homeless children and needy families. Through Dec. 20, the Gardens will donate $1 to the Salvation Army's H.A.L.O. Child Enrichment Center and $1 to the Lake Wales Care Center for each letter written by a visiting child.

There also will be 14 varieties of poinsettias displayed at the Visitor Center, in addition to more than 200 red and white poinsettias at Pinewood Estate. The Singing Tower carillon will perform seasonal music during concerts at 1 and 3 p.m. in the gardens.

On Dec. 17 and 18, 7 p.m. home tours include concerts by folk duo Tammerlin, performing traditional and modern carols, poems and readings. Cost for that special event: $38 general admission, $29 for Bok members. E-mail mchambers@boktower.org or call 863-676-1408 for reservations.

Bok Tower is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Visit boktowergardens.org or call 863-676-1408 for details.
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