Auxiliary Home Tour brings the Christmas Spirit


Recorder News Staff

Wreaths of every size with accents of every kind adorned doors and hallways.

Garland, artificial and real, was wrapped tightly around fireplaces and railings.

And Christmas tree upon Christmas tree – speckled in colors of red, gold, silver, and green – brightened corners in just about every room.

It was the 6th Annual Christmas in November Holiday Home Tour Saturday, presented by the St. Mary's Healthcare Auxiliary, and four families in four very different homes invited visitors in from across the area to take in the Christmas spirit.

For the past few weeks members of the auxiliary worked with the four families to transform their homes into Christmas wonderlands, each with their own unique flavor.

"It's a community project which is something the auxiliary wants to be, a community," said Evelyn Bianchi, who has been in the auxiliary for 51 years. "And I think it gets everyone in the Christmas spirit."

Tom and Kathy Vassi stood in their decorated kitchen Saturday as visitors remarked on how beautiful their home was.

Tom Vassi said a lot of work went into making it as nice as it turned out.

Kathy Vassi said she had always known about the home tour and had a friend that did it last year, so she called her friend up and offered their home for the event. 

"I think that the auxiliary does a lot of fundraising," Kathy Vassi said. "And it's nice to be part of it in any way."

Sisters Theresa Arthurs and Liz Tesiero, who stood in the Vassi's living room in awe at the decorations, come every year to the home tour as it has become a family tradition for them.

"A few years ago we tried it and said, 'Oh my god this is great,'" Arthurs said. "We both plan everything around it."

Arthurs added it not only puts them in the Christmas spirit, but it gives them decoration ideas for their own homes.

Over at the Russo home on Guy Park Avenue, Michael and Barbara Russo were excited to share their home with the community.

But they were also thrilled to see it decorated, as the two recently moved in to the historic home and this will be their first Christmas there.

Perusing the decorations was local resident and Congressman Paul Tonko, who said he comes every year to the home tour.

"I think it's a good way to kick off the holiday season, and the auxiliary does a great job of raising funds for improved services (and) this is a good way to support them," he said.

All of the profits that the auxiliary raised from the day will go to purchasing equipment for the hospital or wherever else it is needed.

Tonko added that the tour is a community builder.

"It's just nice for people to connect in any form or fashion," he said. "But this is a fun way and it's an enjoyable way to see creativity poured into the homes."

"It brings out the kid in everybody."

At the Estep home, the Christmas decorations incorporated fruit into them and the fresh pine garland spread a natural scent to visitors as they walked into the bright home.

After passing out homemade chocolates and ornaments to visitors, Linda Estep sat next to her decorated fireplace remarking on how thrilled they were to be a part of the tour.

"It's starting the Christmas season," she said. "I had two wonderful people (decorating) who worked all week and getting it to the beauty that it is."

Rosalie Riccio, on the tour with her friend Shirley Roehl, said all four homes were stunning.

"The decorations are unbelievable. They really are. I'd take any of them home with me if I could," she said with a laugh.

"It's very important for the community to have all different kinds of activities like this and it makes it more interesting and active to live in," Riccio added.

Roehl chimed in to say that every year it gets better and better.

Auxiliary member Marilyn Quatrini stood on the porch of the Naple home on McQueen Road studying the handmade Christmas quilts that were draped across various pieces of furniture.

She said she's been apart of the decorating team for the past few years.

"It's a very rewarding project," she said. "The auxiliary makes good money for a good cause and people enjoy it and look forward to it every year."

Quatrini said it was a wonderful experience to see the homes evolve.

"It really gets you in the Christmas spirit."