Bob and Marilyn Hill really like Christmas.

There’s garland and wreaths. Tapestries and themed place settings. Scented candles and holiday carols in the air. And on nearly every shelf, stairway and table that will hold them: dozens and dozens of nutcrackers.

There’s Egyptian nutcrackers and nutcrackers playing the violin. There’s one doing yoga and another set dressed as pioneers, plus traditional, Russian and baker nutcrackers, and even one modeled after a certain Disney mouse.

The Hills really like Christmas.

Their Queen Anne home on Fifth Avenue, built in 1906, will welcome guests Dec. 8 to "ooh" and "ahh" over the garland, wreaths, tapestries, candles, music and the nutcrackers as part of the Albany Visitors Association’s 40th annual Christmas Parlor Tour. The Hills’ home will join five other houses downtown as well as historic community buildings like the Carnegie Library, which will see its fireplace lit for the first time since last year’s tour. The Monteith House will be lit by oil lamp, and a piano and viola concert will take place at the United Presbyterian Church.

The Hills will be taking part in the tour for the fifth time in 30 years.

“We bought the Cinderella of the neighborhood and it needed a lot of work,” Marilyn said, noting that the decorations and layout of the house have changed over the years.

The Hills usually start decorating for the holiday around Thanksgiving and while the house is a Christmas wonderland each year, it’s not their favorite holiday — at least not their only favorite holiday.

“I like Halloween too,” Marilyn said, adding that her Halloween nutcrackers were retired last month and will re-emerge next fall.

“I don’t have a favorite decoration,” she said. “We have several favorite nutcrackers but wouldn’t want any of them to get swelled heads.”

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Tour-goers can guide themselves through the stops downtown via their own vehicle, trolley or horse drawn carriage. According to the AVA, the tour usually takes three to four hours. The event will take place from 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 8. Tickets are $15, children under 12 are free with a paid adult. Proceeds are set to benefit the Monteith House Museum.

“It’s a great way to start the holiday season,” Marilyn said. “It puts you in the spirit.”

For more information on the Christmas Parlor Tour, visit


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