By NewsLine Staff

The Mandarin Museum & Historical Society will host its 20th annual Winter Celebration in Walter Jones Historical Park on Dec. 7. This year also marks the 78th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was Dec. 7, 1941. Because this date is a “date which will live in infamy” (President Franklin D. Roosevelt) in American history, and because there are fewer and fewer World War II veterans to help us remember, the Winter Celebration will honor veterans of WWII during this event. A special program will take place in front of Mandarin Museum, beginning at 11:15 a.m. and will include a flag ceremony, the singing of the National Anthem by volunteers Camille and Camiya Ferron, a short talk by Mandarin Museum & HIstorical Society volunteer Paul Ghiotto about why it is so important to always remember this date, and introductions of six local residents who are World War II veterans (Wilma Arpen, Charlotte Leslein, Paul Dymond, Jim Snellen, Dan Stanley and Geaorge Waldoch). Additionally, three vintage WWII Army jeeps will be on display with reenactors and period objects as well as photos and educational posters throughout the park. 

The Winter Celebration is a long-held tradition in Mandarin, kicking off December with old-fashioned fun and history presentations. All historic buildings are open, including the 1875 Webb/Jones Farmhouse (decorated by the Mandarin Garden Club), 1898 St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children, 1876 barn, and the Losco Winery. In the Mandarin Museum, attendees can meet Dr. Keith Holland and Maple Leaf divers to learn about this National Historic Landmark Civil War ship. Civil War reenactors with “In Search of Valor” will feature the common foot soldier of the Civil War with an encampment of period tents, weapons, uniforms and soldiers’ personal effects. The Union Navy will be represented as well as the Golden Teacups (ladies wearing dresses of the period). Sharing the area’s rich African-American heritage will be reenactors from the Fort Mose Historical Society and representatives of Jacksonville Gullah Geeche Nation CDC.

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Activities include a horse drawn hay wagon, games and crafts for children, Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painting by Gator Clowns, antique cars and demonstrations of weaving, quilting and bridge-playing. All activities are free except for the hay ride.

Area non-profit organizations will be present to share information, including Mandarin Garden Club, UF Extension Office, Mandarin Community Club, American Legion Post 373, Greenscape of Jacksonville, and Education First. Alliance Francaise de Jacksonville will present information about French culture and the First Coast Plein Aire Painters will be painting throughout the park. City of Jacksonville Parks, Recreation and Community Services will have an informational table as well as the Sout Mandarin Branch Library. 

The museum gift shop will be stocked with unique holiday gift ideas. Books and art prints are on sale by local authors and local artists. Also, this is the only place anywhere to buy Mandarin history ornaments, the “history” blanket, and the special Mandarin Frogs. The new annual ornament this year is “Mandarin Super Market.” And, for holiday “Shop Local” gift buying, three Mandarin authors who have written books for children will be in attendance: Jane Wood (12 p.m. – 1 p.m.), David Gaslin (12 p.m. – 2 p.m.) and June Weltman (1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.).

Music for the day includes:

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Ryan Sinclair, African Drummer
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Clay County Swing Band, music of the ‘40s and patriotic
2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Camille and Camiya Ferron, vocalists
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: acoustic music circle
1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Miguel Huertes, violinist

The Winter Celebration is held at Walter Jones Historical Park, 11964 Mandarin Road . Visit or call (904) 268-0784 for updates and more information.


Photo courtesy Mandarin Museum & Historical Society

A horse drawn hay wagon is one of the popular activities at the annual Winter Celebration.


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