GENESEO – Geneseo’s famous Big Tree Inn is dressed to impress for the holidays, courtesy of a local native with plenty of holiday cheer.
According to a press release from SUNY Geneseo’s Campus Auxiliary Services, which owns the Big Tree, Geneseo native David McKeowen, is using his finely honed holiday decorating skills to spread cheer to all who enter the Big Tree Inn for the third consecutive year.
“The Big Tree Inn is a beautiful historic place where I have spent many a night eating and drinking with long-time friends,” said McKeowen. “So when the opportunity came up to put my Christmas talents to work at the Big Tree, I jumped at it.”
According to Rebecca Mahmoud, general manager at the Big Tree Inn, David’s generous giving of his talents has had a large impact.
“David’s talents have really helped to bring alive the beauty and wonder of the holiday season within the building. The magic that he works truly transforms the space during the holiday season, giving it an uplifting and merry atmosphere.”
McKeowen’s decorating talents stem from a love of all things Christmas. As a small child, his parents would transform the entire house into a Christmas wonderland so when David woke up on Christmas morning, Santa had brought and set up everything. David continued his parent’s magic as he grew older, expanding from his bedroom to his grandparent’s tree.
David attended SUNY Geneseo and graduated with a BA in Theatre and a minor in Musical Theatre. Moving to New York City to be a performer in 1980, he had many ‘survival’ jobs to pay the bills between acting gigs. One such job was being a part of a team that would set up temporary Christmas shops. There he leaned the art of ‘slamming,’ or fast decorating to light a tree and work with wired ribbon to quickly and expertly decorate a store.
That job led to other Christmas jobs freelancing with some of the top holiday companies at the time, Department 56 and Christopher Radko. David went on to give decorating seminars and a segment on The Fine Living Channel, along with working with a team to transform the Lyndhurst Castle in Terrytown, NY into a fairy-tale theme Christmas.
You can see some of his work in a book titled “A Fairy-Tale Christmas: Creating Magical Celebrations.” He also decorated Tony Award winning director and producer Hal Prince’s 5th Ave Apartment. Since the death of his parents in 2006 and 2007, David has been spending more time in Geneseo keeping his family home.
“David’s love of the Geneseo community and of the Christmas holidays shine through in his work” says Mahmoud. “We are so very thankful for his generosity, in so freely giving his time and talents to make the building so beautiful for all of our guests.”