Holiday House Tours popular again this year



By Ron Giofu


The sixth annual Holiday House Tours were presented over the weekend and were once again popular with those who attended.

Nine locations were featured as part of this year’s house tours, seven of them being private homes. The other two included the tourism booth on Sandwich St. North as well as Vivace Estate Winery on Concession 5 North, the latter also housing the Christmas Tree Dress Exhibit that was done in conjunction with St. Clair College design students.

“We’ve seen some beautiful things,” said Judi Rocheleau, as she toured a Rankin Ave. home with Bern O’Mahony. “This one is gorgeous. This is really beautiful.”

Rita Azar looks at the “Island View” home on Front Road North as part of this year’s Holiday House Tours.

Rocheleau said they had been through “Island View,” the featured home on this year’s tour, located at 671 Front Road North and owned by David and Deanna McDowall. She said that was worth the price of admission alone.

“What we’ve seen so far is beautiful,” she added, noting the homes were decorated “perfectly without being overdone.”

As for whether she picked up any ideas for her own home, Rocheleau replied “you’ve got that right.”

“I like to look for new ideas for decorating,” agreed O’Mahony.

Rocheleau added she enjoys the River Lights Winter Festival and wanted to contribute to it by going to the Holiday House Tours. The tours are just one part of the festival’s itinerary.

Rita Azar called the homes and the greetings at each of them “very friendly” as she toured “Island View.” She said she enjoyed the “uniqueness of each home” on the Holiday House Tour.

“It has been amazing,” said Azar. “It is my first tour and it is out of this world.”

Andrew Gruening and Sherry Boxall stand in the dining room of their Front Road North home during the Holiday House Tours.

“Island View” wasn’t the only Front Road North home on the tour, as Sherry Boxall and Andrew Gruening had their home on the tour as well, with it being just north of the featured home. Their decorator brought the idea to them last year, Boxall explained, and they decided to go on the tour with the McDowalls.

Boxall said people were very friendly as they went through their home and it was a nice experience. The couple has a lot of Amherstburg and Essex County antiques and that was one of the many highlights of their home.

Anne Rota, manager of tourism and culture with the town, said things went well.

“We’re probably looking at about 1,000 people this year,” she said. “We’re noticing a lot of people from out-of-town this year.”

Judi Rocheleau and Bern O’Mahony look at a decorated dining room table at a Rankin Ave. home on the first day of the two-day Holiday House Tours Nov. 24.

While it was their sixth year, it was the first year the Holiday House Tours involved a winery. Vivace Estate Winery was able to get some exposure, with Rota adding the tours also led to spin off business in town as she knew some people were headed to local restaurants and businesses. Rota added that is “what it’s all about – showcasing our community and bring business to town.”

Proceeds from the Holiday House Tours help fund the River Lights’ programming, including activities at the Gingerbread Warming House in Toddy Jones Park.

“We are so happy to be part of River Lights,” added Jean Qian, owner of Vivace Estate Winery. “Everyone looks so happy.”

“It’s a really great experience and nice to celebrate the holidays with the community,” added Vivace staff member Madison Vandenham.

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