‘House and Light Tour’ a magical success

Organizers of the first “Magical House and Light Tour,” held here Sunday evening, are dancing on cloud nine after it exceeded all their expectations–raising $2,500 in the process.
Staged as a fundraiser for the Riverside Foundation for Health Care, 125 people took up the opportunity to tour six local homes for a peek at their Christmas decorations.
The homeowners who took part included Bev and Derald McCool, Linda and Bob Hamilton, Julie and Dave Crichton, Bev and Clare Brunetta, Lila and Wilf Sanders, and tour convener Kathie Armstrong.
“We are very pleased with it because we had decided beforehand that if we sold 100 [tickets], we would have deemed it a success,” said Joan Allison, chairman of the Foundation’s fundraising committee.
“And I can honestly say we had not one negative comment,” she added.
“It was fabulous [and] went so far past what we expected,” enthused Armstrong.
Both women also gave kudos to the nearly 20 volunteers (most of whom were members of the local hospital auxiliary) who acted as tour guides during the three-hour event.
“We must extend appreciation to the volunteers because it is never a one, two, or three-man operation,” Allison noted. “We couldn’t have done it without their time, effort, and goodwill.”
< *c>Touring for a difference
For Tom Duchnicki, who took in the “House and Light Tour” with his wife, Rochelle, and another couple, it was a chance to see how other people do Christmas in their homes.
Duchnicki said he went on the tour hoping to see diversity–and that’s exactly what he got.
“I think it was very generous and gracious that people opened up their homes. That, in itself, was very impressive [because] not everybody would do that,” he remarked.
“We had a wonderful time. We were curious to see what other people do [in decorating] on presumably a normal basis every year,” he said. “For the most part, that’s what we saw [but] we didn’t go for any ideas because we already have our own.”
Florence Challis echoed similar sentiments over catching a glimpse of how other people decorate for the holidays.
“I found it most interesting. I liked the fact that everybody had different views and ideas–that was really something to see,” she enthused. “We’re all so different.”
Bev Brunetta, who enlisted the decorating expertise of Janis Lesko of “Cripes It’s A Castle” here prior to opening her home to the tour, said she gleaned a lot of enjoyment out of making her own rounds to see how others had trimmed their homes this year.
“I just felt every home had a different [perspective] and that was so delightful–so different–yet so beautiful,” she recalled.
“I quite enjoyed seeing other homes and getting some ideas.,” added Julie Crichton. “I think it could be the start of something really great.”
In fact, Armstrong said she already had a number of people step forward and offer their homes for the tour next year.
< *c>A feast for the eyes
How often to you get a perspective on holiday decorating in the comfort of a stranger’s home? That’s what made the idea of the tour so intriguing.
But like many of my fellow “tourists,” I had no idea what to expect. It was only after it was over and I looked back did I realize the experience surpassed everything I had anticipated.
And it was a lesson. No matter what your personal holiday decorating style, the warm invitation of Christmas is the result.
That realization was especially meaningful amid the ambiance of cinnamon-coated air, smudged glow of Christmas lights, and sprays of holiday arrangements at each home I toured.
I love to “deck the halls” at Christmas time, and usually don’t have much trouble executing the adage “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”
But being the mother of three young children, most of my Christmas glamour consists of humongous construction paper poinsettias and glitter-encrusted gingerbread men from grades gone by–not to mention the Virgin Mary crafted from scraps of wallpaper, and angels with crayon faces and doilies for wings.
And that’s okay, too.
While on tour at the McCool residence, it was fun to imagine that I lived there–until I realized even with my creative skills, I would never have enough patience to put up the 3,000 window stencils Bev had tastefully placed around her home.
But that’s okay, too.
And candles really do prove that even the simplest touches can be elegant. It’s the reason why I have 45 in my own living room.
We all have our own ideas about what decorations make our Christmas ideal. And it’s precisely that diversity which will keep the “magic” in the “House and Light Tour” each year.