The Santa Barbara Historical Museum celebrated the spirit of Christmas at the Remember the Magic 2011 holiday party. The Dec. 3 event heralded the arrival of Father Christmas and his faithful companions to the beautiful museum courtyard for the annual family-friendly festivities.

“Remember the Magic shows that Christmas holds magic for all ages and everyone loves to remember all the beauty, music, excitement and good times with family and friends,” said Eleanor Van Cott, Santa Barbara Historical Museum board president and honorary chairwoman of the party.

More than 100 guests arrived at the museum ready to begin the Christmas season and participate in the holiday festivities of dancing and dining along with a boutique silent auction.

The museum was alight with twinkling lights as musicians from the Merrie Wreath Consort lined the entryway into the building and welcomed visitors to the enchanting affair.

The cheery band of singers wore elaborate Renaissance costumes made of heavy plaid wool complete with jewels, fur, brocades and glass beads and delighted onlookers with a variety of traditional English carols, “Holly and the Ivy”, “Here We Come A-wassailing” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”.

Mary Glen, as singer and performer Lady Mary McMichael, greeted couples, parents and children passer-bys with a Merry Christmas as two lovely maidens stood atop the balcony overlooking the entrance and waved to visitors below.

“It’s a joyous occasion and it’s part of the magic of Christmas to do time traveling this night and to bring the Renaissance times to the historical museum,” Glen said in a joyous Scottish accent. “So we are traveling into the future to wish everyone a blessed Yuletide.”

Inside the museum, the lobby and gift shop were adorned with vivid holiday lights, poinsettias and holly wreaths as patrons were greeted by board members in front of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree with garland, colorful glass balls, glowing lights and ornaments.

This beautiful tree that graced the center of the room overshadowed tables overflowing with silent auction items, including gift baskets, books, jewelry, portraits and gift certificates inside the main gallery.

Museum education director Rebekah Beveridge manned a donor station for the children’s Bus Fund where guests could donate up to $200 toward the educational school program.

Beveridge explained that because of decreased funding in Santa Barbara County schools, and especially Title I schools, many schools are unable to bring students to the museum during the year.

“It’s important that all schools are able to come here,” said Beveridge. “So the museum is trying to provide bus money to local schools that haven’t been coming to visit the museum over the last few years due to a lack of funds.

“For $200 a third- and fourth-grade class can visit the museum, where we have wonderful school programs that students can enjoy, such as the Time Travel Treasure Hunt and Witness to History — but they need to get here.”

The sweet laughter and joyous shrieks of children filled the room as excited youngsters clad in holiday attire raced toward the back room to ride on the museum’s authentic Dentzel Carousel, and the new Walker Tompkins interactive table in the Sala Gallery also captured the attention of guests as well.

A courteous wait staff offered tasty potato croquettes, Beef Wellington and braised pork belly in a delicious herb balsamic reduction to guests who mingled in small groups around the room.

Outside, the courtyard was beautifully transformed into an enchanting holiday oasis as a glow of red and green lights illuminated the large ivory canopy courtesy of Ventura Rentals. Sheer bronze drapes complimented dining tables covered in rich maroon tones embellished with intricate gold stitching and table settings were aglow with long-stem candles accompanied by pine wreaths.

The night air was chilly and a good time was had by all as guests lounged on cozy couches around fire pits while others socialized by the open bar and sipped beverages by the fountain.

At the rear of the courtyard, parents did their best to keep an eye on children who happily swarmed over a candy bar filled with an assortment of mouth-watering sweets.

Later, guests dined on the main course provided by SBB Gourmet Catering of drunken lobster salad garnished with watercress, citrus and orange rum vinaigrette and beef short ribs smothered with Yukon gold potato puree and roasted Brussels’ sprouts.

A fine selection of chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah port generously sponsored by Bridlewood Estate Winery complimented the scrumptious meal.

The special kids menu included a romaine salad with buttermilk dressing and baked chicken ziti with carbonara sauce.

For dessert, adults enjoyed steamed cranberry Christmas pudding in a classic bourbon hard sauce as kids gobbled up warm chocolate brownies topped with vanilla and whipped cream served with hot cocoa.

Meanwhile, a graceful threesome of ballet dancers from the Rudenko School of Dance strode across a stage with a youthful, perky ease, twirling, leaping and charming the crowd of onlookers.

Immediately following the dance performance, the lights turned a wondrous shade of majestic blue as Father Christmas, played by Marty Maciel wearing a plaid kilt and holding a staff, entered the courtyard with his faithful companions in tow and marched slowly to the stage.

The crowd erupted in applause and children leaped out of their seats, abandoning their dessert to greet Santa. The stage was enveloped in swirling dry snowflakes provided by Bella Vista Designs.

When the snow cleared, the celebration moved into the night as guests hit the dance floor swaying to the swinging tunes of Area 51. There was no doubt this was truly a magical evening to remember.

“Participating each year in the ‘Remember the Magic’ production really emphasizes the seasonal importance of family, traditions and holiday magic,” said Stacy Hill, dancer and choreographer of the Remember the Magic ballet performance. “It’s amazing to be part of new family traditions through the show, seeing recurring faces each year, and it’s heartwarming to bring alive our seasonal characters for the audience.

“It’s not often you get to literally represent the spirit of Christmas, and that is its own special magic.”

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.