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Holiday Tour of Homes raises spirits and funds

December 3, 2018
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Ryan Fischer/The Herald-Dispatch People get a chance to view decorations inside Griffin and Nathan Hatfield's home during the annual Holiday Candlelight House Tours on Sunday, December 2, 2018, in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Although Sunday afternoon temperatures were a balmy 71 and sunny (more Huntington Beach, California, than Huntington, West Virginia), local homeowners merrily mustered all the snowflakes and candy cane wishes they could during ASAP’s first Holiday Candlelight House Tours.

Hosted from 2007 to 2016 by the ARTS Resources for the Tri-State, this year, the nonprofit group Advocates Saving Adoptable Pets (ASAP) re-started the popular tour and fundraiser that had skipped 2017.

Proceeds from this year’s tour go to vet homeless animals at the Huntington Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter at 1901 James River Road in Huntington.

This year, seven beautiful Huntington homes — located mainly around Ritter Park and the Southside — were on the tour, including the homes of Jara Howard, Dr. Glen and Jan Imlay, Cindy and Wallace Taylor, Drs. Timothy and Jennie Yoost, Griffin and Nathan Hatfield, Sheri and Rod Duncan and Dave Duffield’s country estate tucked between the hills just south of the city.

Just across from the Ritter Park Rose Garden was a cluster of three homes - Drs. Timothy and Jennie Yoost, Griffin and Nathan Hatfield, the oldest home on the tour, the 1898-built home of Wallace and Cindy Taylor.

Sue Callebs was one of the volunteers at the home of Griffin and Nathan Hatfield - who are literally the Hatfields on McCoy Road. She said she feels like the house tour is a great start to help get more money to the shelter so that all pets can find a good home.

“I am here because of my love for pets,” said Callebs standing in the Hatfield kitchen, just feet away from their pet room filled with a dog bone and cat ornament tree and a sign that reads “Meowy Christmas.” “I love cats, and I am sorry to see so many are at the pound and can’t find a loving home. I would take them all if I could. I think most people here in Huntington have such a love for animals that it is a shame we can’t do more.”

Up the hill from the Hatfields, volunteer Michele Endicott welcomed guests to Cindy and Wallace Taylor’s home (also home to three dogs) that is filled with Cindy’s incredible array of needlework pillows, ornaments and decorations.

Endicott, who showcased points of interest in the historic home (the porch lights are from the original owner’s steamboat), said the homeowners all graciously accepted the wild idea of having about 400 to 500 people (the estimated crowd Sunday) tromping through their homes.

“The homeowners have been so willing ... when we started putting feelers out to see who would be interested, people like Cindy were just happy to do this,” Endicott said. “Some said this was the only organization that they would do it for because they are happy with the way the shelter is evolving now, and so ASAP is jumping in there and taking care of a lot of the animals.”

At the home of Cindy Taylor, a crafty former school teacher with a weakness for a good antique auction from her days living in the history-rich city of Richmond, there was a good decorating idea anywhere you looked.

Doris Staton, of Proctorville, Ohio, pointed out a table decoration in a dining room where Taylor had stacked glass cake stands and a glass coin plate on top of each other, and filled them with cascading decorations.

“I love looking at houses and seeing how other people have decorated,” Staton said. “I was just looking at this and how clever this is - that is just stacking.”

Outside the Taylors’ home, neighbor Patty Justice, who ran the ARTS tour of homes with Bev Mueller for its duration, said they were delighted that ASAP restarted the home tours tradition with some tips from their years of running the tours.

“We said we would help, but at our age we can’t do the work we used to do,” Justice said. “We, of course, got into more work than we said we would, but it is a lot of fun, and we feel like they have got it back off the ground. I think the big thing it is always so successful is that we always have it the first weekend of December, and so people have just started to decorate and people love to go see other people’s ideas and decorations.”

While six of the seven houses were all historic and tucked into the hills and brick street neighborhoods of Huntington’s Southside, Dave Duffield’s modern country estate dates back to 1988. It may only sit eight minutes from downtown, but it might as well be a world away.

After taking some 52 tractor-trailer loads of trees out of the now lush grass-filled valley, Duffield’s vision as an outdoors-loving homeowner is in full bloom on his 80 acres with a 600-foot-long lake complete with a permanent, restored houseboat, a pool complex with a waterfall and hot tub, hills full of trails, a gun range and 35 Bradford Pear trees that greet you up the drive.

Inside, after greetings by ASAP volunteers and good friends Carrie Justice and Jocelyn Billy, visitors were treated to the decorating handiwork of Beth Green Duffield, the CFO of Duffield, Lovejoy, Stemple & Boggs, who enlisted a team of helpers to transform each room into a HGTV-worthy holiday showpiece.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Dave Duffield said with a laugh. “But Beth got on board, and she did a wonderful job.”

Martha Cummings, of ASAP, said although they are not sure how much money was raised as of Sunday evening, they heard nothing but wonderful things from visitors and from homeowners who graciously went above and beyond to share part of their holidays with the community for a great cause.

“ASAP jumped on it, and I knew it was going to be a great fundraiser,” Cummings said. “It is such a good tradition in Huntington.”

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