‘Christmas house tour’ set to go here Sunday

Organizers of “A Magical Christmas House and Light Tour” say ticket sales are going over well, with even more expected to be sold right up until the event Sunday.
The tour, slated to run from 5-8 p.m. and being staged by the Riverside Foundation for Health Care as a fundraiser, will see six local homes open their doors to ticket-holders for a glimpse of their lavish Christmas decorations.
Ticket-holders will begin their tour at the new entrance to La Verendrye hospital, where they will receive a map marked with the locations of the six designated homes in Fort Frances.
“We didn’t have high expectations [but] we’re pleased with [ticket sales],” co-organizer Kathie Armstrong said yesterday.
Armstrong first got the idea last year when she attended a similar tour put on by the Canadian Cancer Society in Huntsville, Ont.
The homeowners taking part are Linda and Bob Hamilton (Colonization Road West), Julie and Dave Crichton (Portage Avenue), Bev and Clare Brunetta (Frenette Avenue), Lila and Wilf Sanders (Nelson Street), Bev and Derald McCool (River Road), and Armstrong (Kirsti Place).
The six couples will not be home during the tour, with volunteers from the local hospital auxiliary to be on hand at each house to handle the crowd.
Armstrong also said measures will be taken to ensure only those who have paid for a ticket (which cost $20 each) will be allowed inside the homes.
“Once people have shown they have a ticket, they will get their hand stamped,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Bev McCool has been gearing up for the event for some time. She noted people who have stopped to talk to her about the tour are eager to see what’s in store.
“People are really excited about it,” she said yesterday, adding “tourists” can look forward to seeing lots of colour and lights at her home.
“I have lots of poinsettias and lots of swags and wreaths, [and] I have several trees up,” she remarked. “I have a 10-foot spruce tree in my living room decorated in off-white and gold, a multi-coloured [tree] in my grandchildren’s room, and in my rec room, I have a tree decorated in peach and turquoise.”
At Linda Hamilton’s home, “tourists” can expect to see some 300 versions of jolly St. Nick and lots of garland.
“I have a Santa Claus collection set up all over the house,” she said. “They range anywhere from one inch to two feet] tall.
“I will have both of my tables set and there will be lots of lights,” added Hamilton, noting she also was borrowing her sister Lorna’s collection of nutcrackers.
“She will make sure everything looks perfect,” Hamilton chuckled. “It’s been a lot of fun getting ready but a lot of late nights, [too].”
Both Hamilton and McCool are planning to take in the other homes on the tour list.
The tour ends at 8 p.m. with people returning to the hospital entrance, where cider and shortbread will be served until 9 p.m. Members of the Fort Frances Choraliers also will be on hand to sing Christmas carols.
Tickets can be purchased at La Verendrye hospital, Cousineau Brokers, The Place, and Gagne’s Pharmacy.
All proceeds will go to the Riverside Foundation for Health Care.