Holly Trail Tour of Homes celebrates 50th anniversary

Marta Bailey and Mindy Smith tour the home of Tara and Troy Nelson on Sunday during the 50th annual Holly Trail Tour of Homes in Parkersburg. This year’s tour included eight homes in Parkersburg and Vienna. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — People got to look inside a number of homes this past weekend to see how people decorate for the holidays and the unique touches that make it special for individual families.

The GFWC Parkersburg Woman’s Club held its 50th annual Holly Trail Tour of Homes over the weekend with eight homes on the tour this year, including one in Vienna and the rest in Parkersburg along with the Woman’s Club Clubhouse.

“This is our 50th year for the tour and we are really thrilled,” said Judy Parrish, chairwoman of the 2017 Holly Trails Tour. “We have nine locations this year, our largest number of homes to tour and visit.”

The arrival of snow Saturday evening added something special to the proceedings as the Holly Trails Tour conducted its first evening tours this year where visitors could see the homes lit up.

“It was exactly what we needed to start the Christmas holiday season,” Parrish said.

Kim Vanmeter tours the home of Francesca and Michael Kunk during the 50th annual Holly Trail Tour of Homes in Parkersburg. Visitors toured a number of homes in the area to see how people decorated and to learn the history of some of the area’s older homes. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

The people who come on the tour every year are looking for a lot of different things from holiday cheer to decorating ideas they might incorporate in their own homes.

“We have a variety of styles and kinds that can appeal to a wide variety of people,” Parrish said.

A number of the homes on this year’s tour have been featured on the Holly Trail tour in the past, especially years where bad weather may have impacted attendance.

“We call this year’s tour, ‘the best of the best,'” said Jody Stewart, President of the GFWC Parkersburg Woman’s Club. “This year the houses were spectacular.

“The houses were all lit for Christmas with the decorations indoors and outdoors.”

Many people enjoyed seeing the homes lit up Saturday evening.

“Many people have seen these properties, but not like this,” Stewart said.

The homes on this year’s tour included: Francesca and Michael Kunk, 1701 Washington Ave., Parkersburg; Michelle and Keith McClung, 1433 22nd St., Parkersburg; Charlotte and Randy Modesitt, 1703 Park Ave., Parkersburg; Mary McDonough Riccobene, 378 Ridge Road, Parkersburg; Tara and Troy Nelson, 1355 Market St., Parkersburg; Kim and Ray Blackburn, 2000 Washington Ave., Parkersburg; Donna and Mark McKinnis, 39 Wyndemere Drive, Vienna; and Judith and Norman Smith, 1024 Juliana St., Parkersburg as well as the Parkersburg Woman’s Clubhouse at 323 Ninth St. in downtown Parkersburg.

Tara Nelson, one of the homeowners on this year’s tour, said she and her husband Troy have been working on their home for 14 years and it was to a place where they could participate in the tour.

“We always thought of our home as a way to welcome people in,” she said. “It raises good money for a good cause.

“I am glad to let people in to see these old homes in town.”

The Nelson home was built 1896.

This year’s tour saw visitors come in from Buckhannon, Point Pleasant, Charleston and other locations. Stewart estimated there were around 200 people who went through the busiest house Saturday evening and then around 400-500 people who did the tour on Sunday.

“We have people coming from all over to support our club and to see these beautiful homes,” she said. “I hope it has put them in a Christmas spirit and be able to enjoy their holiday more.

“A lot of people make this a holiday tradition. Many look forward to doing the tour each year.”

Mindy Smith and Marta Bailey hadn’t been on the tour for around 10 years and decided to try it again Sunday.

“We wanted to see all the beautiful homes, the architecture and how it is decorated,” Smith said.

“I wanted to check out how other people decorate for Christmas and their perspective on decorating,” Bailey added.

Kim Vanmeter and Fran Allen have been going on the tour regularly over the last 20 years.

“It just gets us in the holiday spirit,” Vanmeter said. “We love to see the decorations, the old houses and hear the history.”

“I love to see how people live and how they celebrate,” Allen added.

The club was able to promote the event across the state through other GFWC organizations statewide. Holly Trail is a fundraiser for the Parkersburg Woman’s Club, which currently has 107 members working in the community to make a difference through volunteering.

“Volunteerism can make a big difference in the lives of our citizens,” Parrish said.

Some current projects include: awarding scholarships to local high school senior girls; establishing Free Little Libraries in the area in an educational collaboration with design and construction classes at Parkersburg High School; accessing nursing homes with arts, conservation, gifts programs; sponsoring art education through community art shows with awards; community events for veterans, firefighters and police; sponsor Leadership Camps such as Girl State; and others.

Planning for the Holly Trails tour began back in May. They have had 60-70 volunteers throughout the weekend.

“It takes a lot of work, a lot of planning, a lot of volunteerism and our members are really into doing things for the community and want to help,” Parrish said.

A lot of people came out for the tour this year.

“Our attendance has been unbelievable,” Parrish said. “We are very pleased with how the community supports us.”