Membership has its privileges and its exclusivity, but when your country club is overflowing with the glories of Christmas, you want to share the news with everyone.
Such is the case this Christmas at Crestview Country Club, a private club north of Central on 127th Street in east Wichita, where members and staff can’t help but rave about the club’s decorations. After a remodel and five years of adding trees and finery each Christmas, Crestview has finally reached its goal of making every corner festive and new.
“This has been a slow build. This is something we always wanted to return it back to,” general manager Ken Nicholas said of the Christmas spread, which reaches from cottony snow on the floors to golden flourishes on the chandeliers to 14 decorated trees in the lobbies, bar and dining room. Filling out the displays are bands of carolers, a large nativity, deer, and banks of poinsettias.
“It’s gorgeous,” said Richard Tijerina, who is food and beverage director for the club and also works with Ken Denton, Jennifer Barnard and Dee White from Tillie’s Flower Shop to put the extravaganza together. And it’s the result of a year-round process of designing, shopping, decorating, then taking down and storing for next year.
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White said that decorating the club represents an enjoyable challenge. “I’m just glad we’re able to make it look like he wants it to,” she said of Tijerina.
“We’re really proud of it,” Barnard said.
Tijerina set out to create different feelings for members as they wind through the club:
• The spiritual element, as people enter and see the creche at the foot of a 14-foot silver and white tree.
• The warmth of a living room in the fireplace lounge, where a fireplace blazes and figures of carolers stand in front of the Christmas tree. This room is nicknamed the Red Room for Christmas.
• Victorian opulence in chandeliers decked out in gold and a large tapestry caught up with gold bows as a backdrop to a gold-bedecked tree in the Grand Room.
• The whimsical in a 14-foot tree that is decorated in teddy bears at the bar.
• And, finally, “Christmas in Connecticut” in the dining room.
“It’s very New England,” Tijerina said of the room whose sweeping windows overlook the golf course. “We wanted it to look like you cut down a tree” and went out and gathered natural plant material from the wild to decorate it with.
The first of the two rustic Connecticut trees is hung with sleds, old-fashioned ice skates, holly, giant pinecones and mittens – “everyone loves this tree,” Tijerina said – while a snow-flocked tree on the other side of the dining room holds oversized acorns and wreaths of pinecones. A horse-drawn carriage carrying carolers is set in front of the tree.
Building up the decorations over several years allowed Tijerina to work toward the realization of the dream without breaking the budget along the way.
The teddy bear tree may be the biggest talker. It started out as a 10-foot tree that Tijerina decorated with stuffed animals from his own childhood.
“I just wanted to get the bears up because I hadn’t seen them in a long, long time,” he said. He thought it would be a one-time deal. But then people asked for it the next year. He now has gone to a 14-foot tree and added bears that members have brought back from their international travels, as well as Boeing and Learjet bears, and a bear bearing a Victory in the Valley shirt from the family of a club member who has cancer.
“So now it’s become a tree of hope,” Tijerina said.
And another new Crestview tradition.