WESTFIELD - The spirit of the holidays is coming to Westfield in the form of the 27th Holly Tour of homes.
The Westfield Women's Organization has scheduled the tour for Sunday from 12:30 until 5 p.m.
According to Sandra Brown, of the WWO, the program has evolved in many positive ways over the course of its existence.
Pictured is the Wendy and Joe Santilli home, one of the houses featured in the 27th annual Westfield Holly Tour.
Photos by Sandra Brown
"The WWO is a service organization that has been active in the Westfield community for over 40 years," said Brown. "In 1985, when the idea of a Holly Tour was conceived, local gift and flower shops provided the decorations for each home. Over the years we have discovered that each home is different, and the homeowners have collections and decorations that make their home unique."
Choosing which ones to feature on the Holly Tour has been a welcome challenge, said Brown.
"There are so many interesting homes in Westfield; some because of their age and architecture and others because of the decor," said Brown. "The WWO looks for the homes that would make a good combination for the event, mixing old and new, traditional and contemporary and diverse enough to appeal to a wide range of participants. Potential Holly Tour homeowners are then contacted by a WWO member to see if they would be available to have their home on our tour."
Not only is the tour a way to celebrate the holiday season by visiting the homes of neighbors, but the proceeds also act to benefit areas of the community in need.
"Many areas in our community need extra funds to help them provide their programs for our children, youth and families," said Brown. "In recent years our donations have included the summer reading program at the Patterson Library, the Food Pantry and the summer swim program at the pool in Welch Field. It also helped fund many programs at Westfield Academy and Central School, including a scholarship for a graduating senior, (and) after prom. And, the STAR elementary reading program, the Community Kitchen, the local preschools, YWCA, and the Westfield Memorial Hospital have also benefited."
According to Brown, the Holly Tour is organized by several members of the WWO who do an extraordinary amount of work to make the program a success.
"The current WWO is a small number of women that do a huge amount of work," said Brown. "Pre-work for the Holly Tour begins in the spring, identifying and securing homes. Every member has a task. Some of those tasks include being a liaison for the homeowner, advertising, overseeing the printing of the posters and tickets, deciding on the dessert to be served the day of the Holly Tour and scheduling the entertainment to be heard while having dessert. The day of the tour we have signs to be placed in the yards of the homes and runners to put down to protect the homeowners' floors. Every home is staffed with active WWO members, as well as our inactive 'social' members. Our active list includes Kathy Archer, Chris Barber, Patti Barger, Martha Bills, myself, Marie Edwards, Heidi Fowler, Sue Harris, Stephanie Holt, Rita Jaynes, Ellen LaPorte, Deanne Manzella, Diane Scarpine and Katie Thies."
The Holly Tour is an important part of the Westfield holiday tradition because it is always held the Sunday before Thanksgiving, said Brown.
"We feel this is a great time to start the transition into the Christmas season," said Brown. "Those on the Holly Tour have a chance to see decorating ideas they might try using in their own homes. Another part of the tradition has become the Victorian Christmas celebrated in Westfield on Saturday complete with a local artisan craft fair at Eason Hall, as well as horse and carriage rides and a Christmas Tea at the McClurg Museum. Both events make it a wonderful way to begin the holiday season."
The tour begins at Johnson Estate Winery, 8419 W. Main Road. The tour continues to six other locations throughout Westfield. The second stop is at the Thomas and Lesley Rackowski home, 251 E. Main St. And, the following five locations: the Wendy and Joe Santilli home, 6710 Barden Road, Ripley; the Tracy and Linda Bennett home, 10 E. Campbell St.; the Barbara LaPolt home, 309 E. Main St.; the First Presbyterian Church and Society, 49 S. Portage Road.; and St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Elm Street.
Restroom facilities are available at the YWCA, Eason Hall, Johnson Estate Winery and the Presbyterian Church. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from WWO members. Tickets are also available in Westfield at Four Seasons Flower Shop, Westfield Optical, Tallulah's Hair Design and Beth's Parkview Cafe.
They can also be purchased in Lakewood at Bag and String Wine Merchants, in Fredonia at the Paper Factory and Time Pieces, and, in North East, Pa., at Calico Patch. Tickets are also available online at Johnson Estate Winery's website at johnsonwinery.com.
For more information call 680-1317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.