In Gov's mansion at Christmas, Retrievers, mice and moose stir

Gov. Rendell and First Lady Marjorie O. Rendell have decked the halls of the Governor's Residence in Harrisburg in holiday finery.

Trees, wreaths, ornaments, even a giant Christmas garden (as they are called in Baltimore) featuring a large train display adorn the Colonial Revival house.

In the Governor's mansion in Harrisburg at holiday time the mice are stirring

Of course animals - live and stuffed - would feature prominently in the decorations of the state's leading canine champion.

The governor's office has been taken over by his wife's stuffed moose collection (that's toy moose not the real thing), including one whose antlers are shaped like a menorah. (Rendell says his wife's love of moose dates to childhood. When word got out about her interest, gifts of stuffed moose and figurines started flooding in. Her collection now numbers well over one thousand.)

At a press party last night Rendell regaled the audience with the mystery of the disappearing gingerbread village, a featured holiday display of several years ago.

He said every morning he'd come downstairs to find a new piece of the village missing - first it was the policeman, then the roof of the post office, then a wall. The staff was deployed to find the culprit. After an extensive investigation the serial munchers were revealed: Rendell's Golden Retrievers Mandy and Ginger.

Mandy has since departed, but with Ginger, and his newest arrival Maggie (a puppy mill rescue) mooching snacks off guests nearby, Rendell said he was at least proud his girls didn't devour the whole display at once.

My favorite decorative touch pictured here: a little faux mouse hole complete with tiny packages at the door step.