The Carols of Christmas on display
at Hayner Center


Hayner Center’s halls elaborately decorated for the holidays

By Tim Smith

No trip to Troy during the Christmas season would be complete without a stop at The Troy Hayner Cultural Center to marvel at the various decorated rooms. Anyone who has ever visited the center this time of year can’t help but be in awe of the ornate decorations on display, all courtesy of community volunteers. The exhibit runs through Jan. 7.

This annual community event has been held since 1976, and it has drawn increasingly larger crowds each year. The exhibit kicked off with a Children’s Day on Dec. 2, complete with puppet shows, music, an appearance by Santa Claus, and other surprises for the kids in attendance. The Holiday Open House on Dec. 3 was the official opening of the exhibit, featuring an afternoon of live entertainment from the Troy community.

Leona Sargent is the exhibit coordinator for this event, and she notes that the annual decorating contest coordinates nicely with other downtown holiday events. 

“Saturday has become a family tradition in Troy, for Santa and puppet shows and crafts,” she says. “Forty-one years means that we are on our second and third generation of children now. Sunday is such a nice day to bring family and friends to tour the décor. We had two additional events in December. The first was A Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long and Decorating Workshop on Dec. 8. The second was our At Home at Hayner Concert featuring the Dianne Coble Ensemble on Dec. 10.”

The Troy Hayner Cultural Center has long been part of the community quilt. According to Sargent, the center has a deep-rooted legacy.

“In 1942, Mrs. Hayner willed her lovely home to the people of Troy for educational or cultural purposes,” she says. “In 1943, her home became the Troy Library and was used as such until 1976. A beautiful library building was completed right next door, and so a new purpose was envisioned for the Hayner home. Citizens got together to create the Troy Hayner Cultural Center. The cultural center was unveiled in December of 1976 with the Holiday Open House event. There was just one tree that year, but it was the beginning of something beautiful!” 

The decorating of the various rooms inside the Hayner Center is a collaborative community project, made up of volunteers.

“Let’s talk about these decorators,” Sargent says. “What an amazing bunch of people these are. Well-over twenty-five people descend upon the Hayner the week before Holiday Open House. Some are interior decorators like David Fair and Mary Nilsen, some are florists like Lori Stoltler, some are artists like Kelly Rank and Ginger Godfrey, and some are students and retired folks. They dream and plan all year for that special look for the new holiday. The theme this year is ‘The Carols of Christmas.’ Each team decorated its chosen room with its own interpretation of the theme. The Exhibit Committee decorated the Upper Hall using historical images of Troy, Ohio choirs through the ages. It is very fun to see.”

According to Sargent, planning the event is a year-long process, involving many volunteers. 

“The next year’s decorating planning process begins the day after they install the exhibit,” she says. “Many of our decorators have been doing this for decades, so previous decorators get first preference for the new year. If a room becomes available to decorate, suggestions can be submitted to the Hayner any time throughout the year by calling me.” 

As with most festivals held in Troy, there is a strong, common bond between places like The Hayner and the local business community.

“As members of the downtown Troy community, I believe we all support one another in as many ways as possible,” Sargent says. “I know that if someone calls the Hayner Center looking for activities on days we are closed, we will check the city or Miami County websites for information for folks. It’s always a good idea to go out for a bite to eat, or do a little shopping, and come to the Hayner Center to see the decorations or come for other events. There are several groups and families who hold their holiday parties at the Hayner Center. These are functions where the group or family would have had to reserve and rent a room or area for their party.”

This feeling of holiday spirit is clearly infectious, and it makes the hard work worthwhile.

“One of my favorite activities this time of year is hearing and seeing all the reactions as I walk through the Hayner Center,” Sargent says. “I think I witnessed the first reaction this year before the decorations were completely installed, but this one reaction pretty much says it all. Mary Nilsen, Donna Crosier, Rich Nilsen, and Josh Howard were just finishing decorating the courtyard as one of our ballet students turned the corner on the staircase to come down to the first floor. She looked out the window into the courtyard and exclaimed, ‘Wow! It’s a winter wonderland!’”

Such a collaborative effort involves the efforts and support of many people, and Sargent hopes that visitors feel something special from their time spent at The Hayner.

“Many guests bring their out-of-town relatives to see the decorations at the Hayner Center as they make their way to downtown Troy,” she says. “We would like for people to take away a sense of community, and sharing the holidays with friends and family.” 

The Carols of Christmas takes place through Jan. 7 at The Troy Hayner Cultural Center on 301 W. Main St., Troy, Ohio. For more information and hours of operation, visit TroyHayner.org or call 937.339.0457.

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Tim Smith
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com

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