Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Marys' Christmas Tour; on Saturday, the Viewing Will Include Private Homes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Marys' Christmas Tour; on Saturday, the Viewing Will Include Private Homes

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

ST. MARYS | As Christmas approaches, it may be best not to answer the door in downtown St. Marys.

If it's not someone trying to sell something, it could be Angela Wigger asking if you wouldn't mind letting a few hundred people walk through your house on a Saturday night in December.

Wigger, St. Marys' tourism director, has the job of enlisting private homes for the annual nighttime Christmas Tour of Homes. This year's is 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Wigger came up with five houses for the 16-stop tour, including that of Larry and Anne Newton.

"I'd had several comments, 'I heard this house has been remodeled,' '' Wigger said. "I didn't even know their names when I knocked on their door."

She asked the Newtons if they'd mind being on the tour and they said they would.

She did the same with Ann Hatchell, who moved into her house in June.

"I was going to decorate,'' Hatchell said. "It motivated me to do a little more."

Hatchell said she was a little surprised that Wigger wanted to put her bungalow on the tour.

"I was a little overwhelmed when she asked me. I envisioned it being all the big, historic homes,'' Hatchell said. She plans to use candles for a lot of the inside light Saturday night for her first tour.

This isn't new for the Newtons. When they lived in historic Avondale Estates in Atlanta a few years ago, they opened their home for a tour. They left there and moved back to their native Indiana for about eight years. The Newtons bought the St. Marys house in February 2012 to move back south "after years of shoveling several feet of snow" to be closer to their son in Kingsland and daughter in Americus.

"That 800- to 900-mile ride is a long way to go to see the kids,'' Larry Newton said.

The St. Marys house needed some work, "a total gut job,'' he called it, but they moved into it permanently in September. Then Wigger came knocking.

Of the home tours in Avondale Estates, Newton said, "We got to meet a lot of our neighbors that way. …

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