For those who won't be able to visit Santa's castle at the North Pole this year, there's an alternative - the Christmas House in north Rockdale County.
Though Santa won't be making an appearance, families can tour the Mediterranean-style mansion which will be decorated for the holiday season and open to the public beginning today through Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 12 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Cost to visit the Christmas House is $10 for adults and free to children 18 and under. Proceeds benefit the A.R. "Gus" Barksdale Boys and Girls Club in Conyers.
Located at 2204 Victor Court off of Miller Bottom Road, the 16,000-square-foot mansion, which sits on more than 2 acres, features six bedrooms, seven and a half baths, a heated pool, hot tub, gazebo, two outdoor kitchens, living room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast sunroom, keeping room, study and basketball and tennis courts.
Captin Construction built the home, which is owned by an Atlanta realtor, as part of the Wellington Lake Estates subdivision. The $2.65 million mansion is on the market and the owner viewed the Christmas House tour as way to expose the house to potential buyers while helping a worthy cause.
"They wanted to give something back while they promoted the house themselves. We became a beneficiary," said Mike Roberts, Boys and Girls Club executive director.
Several of the rooms will be adorned with lights, trees, angels, Santas, wreaths and other festive ornaments.
"In the spirit of the season, this is an alternative to traveling all the way downtown to view Christmas lights. You can take this opportunity to have lights in your own backyard," said Roberts.
Roberts said that while the Christmas House won't replace the Boys and Girls Club's primary fundraiser, Super Saturday Night, to be held this year on Aug. 23 at the Georgia Aquarium, he hopes it generates about $45,000 to finance major enhancements to the club's computer lab and to establish a recording studio. Currently, the club has 20 computers but can support 40 computers, and many of the existing computers need updating.
"It's really and truly to give the kids who don't have a computer at home an opportunity to compete with those who do have a computer," said Roberts.
The audio recording studio idea sprang from requests by Boys and Girls Club members to obtain equipment so they could make their own music, said Roberts, which ranges from rap to gospel.
The Boys and Girls Club in Conyers serves an average of 300 children per day ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old. Children use the center after school hours and for full days during the summer and school breaks. They participate in activities such as computer lab, learning center, game room, homework help, sports, leadership programs and family nights. Cost to be a member is $35 a year.
For more information about the Christmas House, visit www.bgcma.org.
SideBar: If You Go
What: Christmas House
When: The house is open through Dec. 10 on Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 6 p.m.
Where: 2204 Victor Court in Wellington Lake Estates subdivision off of Miller Bottom Road in north Rockdale County
Cost: Admission is $10 for adults 18 and older; children are free.