Mansion decorated by first lady, volunteers |

Mansion decorated by first lady, volunteers

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal First lady Dema Guinn puts up decorations at the Governor's Mansion on Wednesday. Area residents have grown accustomed to the huge holiday displays the Guinns have created during their two terms and complained that the mansion wasn't decorated this year. BELOW: Workers continue to install lights and decorations Wednesday night.

To do so, she was even ready to postpone her planned trip to Disneyland with her grandchildren.

“We’ll be here until midnight if necessary to get it done,” she said. “I’ll catch up to the family at Disneyland.”

She said she thought people would understand her earlier decision not to decorate because of everything going on right now.

“If I thought this was going to cause this much of a problem, I would have done it. But I haven’t even had a staff for nearly a month, and we’ve had so many other things to do.”

Things were further complicated when the state worker who handled these sorts of projects had to go in for knee surgery this month.

“I didn’t want to let the kids down. I just thought people would understand.”

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Some didn’t, writing to the newspaper and calling the Governor’s Office – several of them less than polite – to complain about the lack of decorations this year.

Deputy Chief of Staff Renee Parker pointed out there were no Christmas decorations the year the Millers left and the Guinns arrived – for much the same reasons: The pressure of moving so state crews could do minor repairs, clean the mansion and touch up paint inside and out.

Parker said it seemed almost like some residents were punishing Mrs. Guinn because she did such a great job of decorating the mansion for the past few years.

One of the problems Wednesday was that the thousands of dollars worth of decorations she had purchased – with her own money, not state funds – had already been shipped to their homes in Las Vegas and Reno and to those of their children and grandchildren.

After the complaints, she planned to buy more. However, she didn’t have to, as volunteers began arriving with all sorts of decorations to add to the lights and other ornaments.

By 1 p.m., most of the displays were in place, including trees, wreaths, Santa and his reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman, to name a few.

Workers using a hydraulic lift were stringing lights above the second-story eaves of the mansion, and people driving by were honking and waving their approval.

And staff members informed Mrs. Guinn they had made airline reservations to ensure she could catch up to her husband and grandchildren for the Disneyland trip.

She said that will leave her just the final week of December to make sure the mansion is ready for Jim and Dawn Gibbons. Gov.-elect Gibbons will be sworn in Jan. 1.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.