MORRIS – For one family, the Home for the Holidays Christmas House Walk was a way to spend time together after they converged to Morris from around the world.
Glenn and Cindy Gotling have been attending the annual house walk for years.
“It’s something fun to do,” Glenn Gotling said. “After a hectic Thursday the house walk is the cookies and rainbow to the Thanksgiving weekend.”
The house walk is an annual tradition as part of the Home for the Holidays events held the weekend after Thanksgiving. For $15, participants are welcomed into Morris homes to see the holiday decorations. A complimentary tea also is offered at Immaculate Conception Church.
This is the first year the House Walk was on a Saturday. Julie Applegate, executive director for the Morris Downtown Development Partnership, said final numbers still were being tabulated Monday, but said at least 200 more people attended the house walk as opposed to last year.
The proceeds of the walk go to Grundy Community Volunteer Hospice, Morris Downtown Beautification and to scholarships for Morris Community High School and Grundy Area Vocational Center seniors.
This year for the first time Glenn Gotling’s daughters were able to come home for the holiday. Nicole Dudding was visiting from Luxembourg, and Bridgett Keesler and her husband, Josh, from Idaho were able to attend their first ever house walk.
“I think it’s really nice,” Dudding said. “I’ve never seen one done anywhere else.”
She also thought it was a great way to walk off the lunch they shared as she made her way to each of the four homes showcased on this year’s house walk.
“We’re not normally able to be here at this time of year,” Bridgett Keesler said. “Other than buying our own house we’ve never toured other people’s homes. We just bought our home so we are looking for ideas.”
They each found something to love at each of the homes, whether it be the architecture, or the details of the Christmas decorations.
“I like looking at the houses and get inspiration from them,” Cindy Gotling said. “My house is not decorated yet.”
They all agreed they didn’t have to look further than the home of Harold and Rachel Martin at 724 Fremont Ave. for inspiration.
“The Fremont Avenue house has a gazillion Christmas village houses in there.” Glenn said. “But all of them are close.”
Dudding agreed the Christmas spirit was well showcased in the Martin home, but said she like the home of Dr. Tim and Karen Ortiz at 321 W. North St. for style of home.
Denise Bergin agreed her parents’ home at 724 Fremont is the spirit of Christmas.
As she greeted guests into her childhood home she explained that the Christmas villages that adorn the multitude of shelves stay out year-round.
“My mother loves Christmas,” Bergin said. “She has grandkids and she decorates it so when they come in their eyes light up.”
The decorations adorning every room of the home aren’t just for show: The grandchildren play with the stuffed animals that line the staircase which leads to a second Christmas tree on a landing before leading to the second-floor bedrooms. They also are allowed to play with the village and spend time visiting it often.
Rachel Martin hosted the guests in the kitchen of her home and answered many questions including, “How long does it take to decorate like this?”
“It only takes me about one and a half weeks to decorate it, because the village stays out all year,” Martin said. “I’ve also learned over the years, and all the decorations are boxed by room and labeled for which room they go in.”
When the Martins bought the house it was in disrepair, but they knew they just had to have it.
“I saw what this house could really be,” she said. “We lived next door and when this came on the market we bought it, I love everything about it, it has character.”
The homes of Gary and Barb Behrens and Art Bouchard and Dawn Micale also participated in this year’s house walk.