Story by Katie Bisaro
‘Tis the season to really deck the halls and show off one’s Christmas spirit. Six Warwick families did just that and then some as they opened their homes to the public as part of the annual Winding Through Warwick Tour held on Sat. Dec. 2.
Winding Through Warwick is presented by the St. Anthony Community Hospital Warwick Health Foundation with all funds raised benefitting the hospital, Mt. Alverno Center (assisted living facility) and Schervier Pavilion (skilled nursing facility). The event has grown over the past four years with over 600 guests purchasing tickets this year, which, along with raffles and sponsorships, raised $45,000.
Once guests received their information and directions to the homes on the tour (kept a secret until the day of the event), they set off to visit each home at their leisure on a self-guided tour, winding through the Warwick countryside visiting each of the featured homes. The homes, all differing in size, style and architecture, were fully decorated for Christmas by the homeowners, along with family and friends, showcasing their creativity and holiday spirit.
Decorations at each home reflected the homeowners spirit, interests and personality. Some were whimsical, others classically elegant, and still others charming and cozy. Each was a delight in its own way. Guests often remark that they leave the tour with ideas for their own homes.
Ron and Mary Hennel’s home in Warwick Grove featured several antiques – both in furnishings and decorations, including handmade dolls from Mary’s grandmother and a tree decorated with all handmade felt ornaments from Mary’s mother. Dressed as elves, Ron and his friend, Jerry Mainey, enthusiastically welcomed all who came to tour their comfy home.
The focus of Steven and Hope Stuart’s home was “Baskets Full of Faith, Hope, Love and Joy,” which featured Hope’s extensive collection of Longaberger baskets on display throughout the home. Each room had a different theme. Hope started decorating back in September, with great attention to detail and she delighted in showing off her family’s advent and Christmas traditions.
Holly McPherson, an ICU nurse at St. Anthony Community Hospital, and her husband, Matt, brought Christmas to life in their charming Edenville farmhouse. There were rustic and homey decorations throughout, perfect accents for the restored farmhouse kitchen, cozy living room and a dining room that features shiplapped walls that the McPherson’s installed themselves.
Deb and Fred Krol built their distinctive log home, reminiscent of the grand lodges of America’s National Parks, back in 2000. Natural greens and lights welcomed visitors to this one-of-a-kind home. Inside, it was a white Christmas with crystal, twinkling lights and snowy owls keeping watch.
Emily Wiley, an accomplished equestrian, chose a hunt theme for her historical farmhouse built in the early 1800s. Wiley has spent the past five years restoring her home to its original splendor. The living room featured a live cedar tree while the dining room table was resplendent with its holiday setting overseen by a golden reindeer.
Faith Ferguson and her husband, Ron Boire, completed their magnificent 10,000 sq. ft. home in 2008. Featuring exquisite architectural design details, coffered ceilings and intricate moldings, the spirit of Christmas filled this elegant home. As a treat for all who toured her home, Faith, owner of the Stage Coach Inn in Goshen, had eggnog and ginger cookies as a little holiday nosh.
Employees from the hospital are active participants in the Winding Through Warwick tour. Several volunteers served as greeters in the homes throughout the day. Additionally, employee groups throughout the facilities gathered items to create baskets for the tricky tray raffle which was held at Mt. Alverno Center during registration. It is all part of the community spirit of the event.
Warwick Valley High School students from the band and orchestra programs provided live holiday music at all of the homes throughout the day. The guests registering at Mt. Alverno Center, as well as residents who came down to listen, were treated to carols sung by the Warwick High School Meistersingers.
The Winding Through Warwick committee is grateful for the support of the many local businesses who helped sponsor the event. In turn, the tour is a boon for the community as well. Guests are encouraged to patronize local eating establishments and shops as part of their Winding Through Warwick experience.
The tour draws in visitors from throughout Orange County as well as surrounding areas, including Westchester and Rockland Counties and New Jersey. Many are faithful to the event and never miss a year; others were visiting for the first time and said they were eager to return next year.
“I look forward to this event every year to kick off the holiday season,” said one guest on the tour.
Caroline Hamling, co-chair of Winding Through Warwick, was pleased with the success of this year’s event.
“The committee is thrilled that Winding Through Warwick grows every year. We are grateful to all who came out and spent the day in our Village and Town for the benefit of our local hospital,” said Hamling. “It is truly a community effort with generous support from the hospital staff, local businesses, the homeowners and the public.”
Co-chair Barbara Sullivan echoed that sentiment and expressed her deep appreciation to the homeowners.
“Without the time, talent and energy of the featured homeowners there wouldn’t be a holiday tour. We are so grateful for their willingness to open and share their homes as well as their overflowing Christmas spirit – it is the key to the success of this event year after year,” said Sullivan.
As for the homeowners, months of planning and decorating culminated in this one day. They are no doubt exhausted from the effort, but all enjoyed the experience. At the end of the day, as the last visitors lingered, Mary Hennel summed it up saying, “It was a blast!”