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Sheldon Museum hosts its holiday traditions again

AFTER A ONE-YEAR pandemic hiatus, the miniature trains will once again run in the Sheldon Museum in downtown Middlebury this Christmas.

MIDDLEBURY — The Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History has long been a key component of holiday tradition in Middlebury and Addison County. But the pandemic forced the institution to be closed during last holiday season, and indeed it was shuttered for 18 months before reopening last summer with a mask requirement, hand sanitizer and a spray shield.

This December the Sheldon is moving slowly to open up again with some key components returning.

For instance, the Middlebury Garden Club is decorating inside the museum and also the front porch, giving the place a festive holiday feel.

And while the museum could not accommodate the 900 people it regularly gets at its annual holiday open house, it has decided to let people in to see the wonderful model train exhibit. Engineers will run the trains in December 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday and 1-3:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The museum is closed on Sundays and Monday.

They are limiting the number in the train room to 10 people. On Saturdays, they are asking visitors to reserve a half-hour using an online reservation program on our website, henrysheldonmuseum.org.

“By restricting the number in the train room at one time, we feel we can manage visitors in a safe manner,” said Associate Director Mary Manley.

The annual raffle of miniature Christmas trees decorated by local artists is also again ready to be viewed — and bid on — in person (you can also again see the trees online at henrysheldonmuseum.org, like last year).

This year’s Sheldon Miniature Christmas Tree Raffle features nine one-of-a-kind miniature trees decorated by talented local artists. This year’s artists are: Suzanne Douglas, Kelly Hickey, Robin Huestis (Round Robin), Sandy Jackson, Lauren LaBerge Taddeo (Sweet Charity), Sarah Pope, Sarah Stahl, Pat Zeliff, and a “Secret Santa Artist.” The miniature trees will enchant children and adults alike and add a festive flair to the holiday home decorations of the lucky raffle winners. The trees are 24 inches tall.

Tickets are: $5 for one; $20 for five. You won’t be able to select specific trees on your ticket, but when purchasing tickets, pick your favorite and if your name is drawn, you’ll win that tree if it is still available.

Tickets will be sold through Tuesday, Dec. 21.

“The Museum Store is ready to welcome holiday shoppers,” Manley added.

The store will be open until 8 p.m. on Dec. 9 as part of the Midd Night Stroll downtown business promotion. Musician Ronnie Romano will be playing holiday music on the Sheldon’s antique Chickering piano during the Stroll.

“Having the trains running down the track for visitors, the miniature Christmas trees on view, the Museum Store open for holiday shoppers, and the Middlebury Garden Club’s festive decorations will feel the same as our previous holiday seasons,” Manley said. “We hope that visitors will come to see the trains and trees and enjoy these holiday traditions as in the past.”

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