BRADENTON -- A visit to the Manatee Village Historical Park will transport you back to a 1914 Florida Cracker Christmas.
The atmosphere of Christmas celebrations in Manatee County during a simpler time will be found during the fifth annual event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the village, 1404 Manatee Ave. E.
Mania Swart, visiting Wednesday from Wilmington, N.C., with her husband, Ernst Swart, and 6-year-old granddaughter, Stella Swart-Garcia, said they enjoyed the old buildings.
"The decorated it so nice," Mania Swart said.
Village volunteer Sandra Sanford and her six helpers spent weeks gathering materials and assembling the wreaths hanging inside and outside of the county's first courthouse, the one-room school house, the Settler's House and Wiggins General Store.
The 1887 church sanctuary Christmas tree is decorated with paper angels and stars of Bethlehem. Pine garland and bright red bows are draped over the communion railing.
"See how they use fruit in their wreaths?" Mania Swart asked Stella.
Ernst Swart said: "A lot of the old things I've seen here remind me of when I was young. I grew up on a farm."
Mania Swart said she was glad they stopped to see the historical village.
"We've been coming to Bradenton for more than 40 years to visit my mother-in-law," she said, "and pass it all the time.
Raising park awareness is one of the reasons staff and volunteers hold the Cracker Christmas event, said Phaedra Rehorn, Manatee Village Historical Park supervisor.
"A lot of people don't realize we're here," Rehorn said. "It's another thing we do to get them to step foot in our park to see what we're doing to preserve history."
For her, the interaction between generations makes all the hard work worth it.
"We have a lot of grandparents bonding with their grandchildren," Rehorn said. "Those conversations rarely happen outside of here."
Melissa Porter, education and volunteer coordinator, scheduled a visit from the Victorian Santa.
"He's not dressed in his modern red suit," Porter said. "He's wearing his green cape trimmed in fur that he had back in the 19th century."
She said to remember to bring a camera to take photos with Santa.
There will be lots of Christmas cheer, featuring the Gulf Coast Sandpiper Barbershop Chorus E-Z Keys Quartet and several new acts, including the Palm View First Baptist Church Choir.
"They'll be performing in the historic church," Rehorn said, "and the acoustics are perfect."
Visitors will also be able to do some Christmas gift shopping from the heritage artisans, craft and art vendors, and at the Whistle Stop Gift Shop in the Wiggins General store.
And everyone can make their own crafts at the activity tables such as pomanders, a citrus fruit decorated with cloves, or Victorian Christmas tree ornaments made with doilies and decorations.
Admission is $5 per person, free under age 12.