Facebook Twitter

Holiday decor brings storybooks to life in the Utah Governor’s Mansion

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox welcomed local fourth graders to the Governor’s Mansion to decorate for the holidays

SHARE Holiday decor brings storybooks to life in the Utah Governor’s Mansion
Utah first lady Abby Cox reads “Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?” to Lincoln Elementary School fourth graders at the Governor’s Mansion in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023.

Utah first lady Abby Cox reads “Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?” to Lincoln Elementary School fourth graders at the Governor’s Mansion in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Gov. Spencer J. Cox and first lady Abby Cox revealed their holiday decor at Kearns Mansion on Wednesday morning, and the result was like something out of a storybook.

Kearns Mansion, also known as Governor’s Mansion, is decorated for the holidays every year. The governor’s spouse chooses a theme, and children from a local elementary school are invited to help decorate. This year, fourth graders from Lincoln Elementary helped the Coxes usher in “A Storybook Christmas.”

Abby Cox is a former teacher, and said she chose this year’s theme because of her love for children’s books.

“Christmastime is such a beautiful time to be surrounded by family and children, and it’s the perfect time to cuddle up and read a story,” she said. “There are so many great Christmas stories that we remember from our childhood, and so it’s really a throwback to that time and place.”

The event began with the first lady welcoming the fourth graders into the mansion’s library, which she said was full of books either about Utah or written by Utah authors. Several children expressed their desire to write books, and Cox assured them they could end up in the library one day.

After Cox read the picture book “Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?” to the children, the kids lined up to place ornaments on the library’s Christmas tree. The students explained they each designed their own ornament with computer programs and used their school’s 3-D printers to construct the ornaments.

Cox then led the children on a tour of Kearns Mansion, which is the official residence for the governor’s family. Cox explained that it was built 120 years ago by Thomas and Jennie Kearns, who also built a nearby orphanage. Jennie Kearns donated the mansion to the state of Utah after Thomas’ death.

Gov. Cox arrived in time to greet the children in the mansion’s ballroom, where they sang their school song. The governor also had the opportunity to practice his Spanish with several of the students, and one educator commented that over 20 languages — including Tongan, Korean and Arabic — are spoken by students at the school.

The children returned to the library as Gov. Cox placed a star atop the tree, after which one student asked him to perform a backflip. Although he declined, Cox did invite the children outside for a quick game of basketball.

Abby Cox expressed her appreciation for the students and faculty of Lincoln Elementary for participating in the annual event.

“I have to say, Principal Milton Collins is a phenomenal educator and we love the teachers there at Lincoln. They are doing great work,” she said. “These kids were beautiful and well-behaved and just enthusiastic. We’re proud of our educators for all the work they do and we love to celebrate them, especially this time of year.”

The Governor’s Mansion is open to the public for holiday tours. Registration is available at preservationutah.org.