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Gov. Larry Hogan and first lady to open Maryland's Government House for public holiday celebration

Gov. Larry Hogan and first lady Yumi Hogan announced Thursday that they are inviting Maryland residents to attend their holiday open house on Dec. 8 at the governor’s mansion in Annapolis from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

The annual tradition is free and open to the public without any need of an RSVP. Now that’s a party.

They have only one request: guests should consider bringing unwrapped toys to be donated to needy families. Maryland State Police officers will be collecting the donations on behalf of Toys for Tots under a tent near the front gate, according to a news release.

If Government House is packed and you’re stuck in line, no worries: Hot wassail will be available for those waiting to enter the Annapolis mansion as well as live music from various high school groups.

On the menu from Government House chefs: holiday cookies, brownies and dessert bars.

Holiday ornaments provided by the Foundation for the Preservation of Government House of Maryland will be on sale “to help support and maintain the historical significance of Government House with repairs, remodeling, and preservation,” the news release states.

The mansion was built in 1870 and has been the backdrop for many a strange political drama, especially related to its furniture. When former Gov. Marvin Mandel left the mansion in 1979, he famously took nearly all of its furniture, liquor and other supplies. An infuriated Gov. Harry Hughes demanded an investigation that dragged on for years before Mandel returned several items and paid $10,000 to the state in a settlement with Maryland’s attorney general.

Some 35 years later another furniture flap hit that pitted two other governors against each other: When former Gov. Martin O’Malley and his family moved out in January 2015, the Democrat left with 54 furniture items he bought at a steep discount because his administration had declared all of the furnishings to be junk.

Hogan accused O'Malley of “misleading” Marylanders about the removal of the furnishings, saying the former governor never told him about plans to take items with him. O’Malley officials said they followed state rules and ethics officials took no action.

That should give you something to chat about during the open house.

Free parking for the event will be available in the Bladen Street garage or other lots on Main and West streets.

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