Hundreds Tour Festive Homes - The Evening Leader
Three hundred St. Marians and their friends spread out across the west side of St. Marys Tuesday evening. Their goal, enjoying Christmas decorations with the help of the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce, five welcoming hosts and good conversations.
Participants started the evening in the community room at Wayne Street United Methodist Church where they were able to catch up with friends, sip on hot chocolate and “tour” the gingerbread houses that were submitted for judging.
“We’ve been really happy with our gingerbread competition — we were hoping for 10 and we got nine entries,” chamber Director Abby Balster said. “Children and businesses were the only ones who entered.”
Winners for each category — business, children and individual — were given prize baskets which included gift cards, candies and other small prizes. Balster said that since entering the contest was free, prizes were smaller.
Biggby Coffee won first place in the business category while “Snoopy’s House” won the children’s contest.
When the time came to head out to tour the decorated homes, participants departed on the route to view the five homes around town. There were three, pre-designated routes the 300 tourgoers were assigned to help with the flow of traffic.
On the tour, participants went from home to home taking in the view of decorations and in some cases, renovations.
At 209 S. Main St. stands the home of Marion and Josie Slater. Their large Victorian home is in the process of being renovated, as it has been since the Slaters purchased it.
“We’ve replaced two sections of the front porch, removed an exterior staircase, painted as well as other updates that aren’t visible to the eye,” Marion said. “We have the original blueprints to the home, which were done by the same architect who designed the Auglaize County Courthouse, and we have tried to stick with those as much as we can.”
Just down the road is John and Lynn Westerfield’s colonial style house. Filled with decorations of every variety filling specific rooms to a theme, from colors to sports and even a Roughriders room.
“We fell in love with the house the minute we walked in,” Lynn said. “There’s just something about the warm cozy feeling you get when you walk through the front door.”
At 113 N. Perry St., Tom and Jackie Brindley have made their home in St. Marys after moving to the United States from the United Kingdom. They brought with them more than just their things as they also packed up some of their European tradition.
Most notably, they brought over crackers.
“These aren’t the kind you eat with cheese, but rather a game where two people pull a cardboard tube wrapped in colored paper,” read their home’s profile in the tour’s booklet.
Farthest for the tourgoers to go was 802 W. High St., the home of Larry and Edna Slone. The house has a lodge-like feel with wood ceiling beams, a fireplace and several handmade wooden pieces.
“Larry has a passion for woodworking ... Edna is very crafty and artistic,” the booklet read.
Finally participants made their way to Josh and Sydney Barnes’ home at 329 N. Wayne St.
“This home was a place we could see our future,” the couple said. “We could grow our family and put our roots down here.”
The house is styled as a modern farm house with a mixture of old antiques to new additions. Decorating for the Barnes’ begins once all their Thanksgiving guests have left, while playing Nat King Cole on the record player. In the front window is a special tree decorated with ribbons, bows and meaningful ornaments.
“I get Sydney a new ornament for this tree every year,” Josh said. “The tree is a tradition passed down from Sydney’s grandmother.”