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MDDP struggles to find houses for housewalk

Liberty Days event to add arts fair

MORRIS – A home doesn’t need to be the biggest or flashiest to be the most inspiring, said Penny Olson-Langland, chairwoman of the Home for the Holidays Housewalk committee.

That’s something she wishes more Morris residents would keep in mind when considering whether to participate in the annual holiday housewalk, which is an event put on by Morris Downtown Development Partnership.

“It’s not about having the most fabulous home,” Olson-Langland said Thursday. “It’s about being an inspiration to others.”

Over the past several years, the housewalk committee has found it increasingly difficult to find new homes to participate in the 23-year event, Julie Applegate, executive director of the MDDP, said Thursday.

Applegate appeared Monday before the Morris City Council to review MDDP’s 2013 events and what is being worked on for this year.

Last year, for the first time in several years, the housewalk only featured four homes instead of five.

“It’s getting to the point where we may have to stop doing it because the homes are getting more difficult to find,” Olson-Langland said. “I know it would be a huge disappointment if we didn’t do it, but we need homes.”

Olson-Langland said the committee has been doing the housewalk for so long that finding new homeowners willing to participate is taking longer than it has before. She said the group has secured one home for this year’s walk, but still need to find four more homes before May 1.

“I think some people may be intimidated by the whole process if they’ve never done it before,” Olson-Langland said.

Applegate said the organization would love to see new homes participate this year and ask that they contact MDDP for information. The unofficial deadline is May 1, Olson-Langland said, but they are willing to extend it – as they have in years past – if they don’t find enough homes in time.

“Some may not feel their homes are as well-decorated as they should be, but we’re trying to get beyond that,” Applegate said. “We just love to see the individual homeowners style and personality.”

Olson-Langland said people should view the housewalk as a service to their community since so many people enjoy it and the proceeds are invested in local causes.

“I hope people see it as a way of giving back to the community,” Olson-Langland said. “So many people enjoy it and we hope we can continue it each year.”

The housewalk may be shrinking, but Liberty Days, another MDDP sponsored event, will be growing this year with the addition of an arts fair.

Applegate said the organization is working with Lonnie’s Arts Gallery to gather local and regional artists for an arts fair to be held during this year’s Liberty Days festival.

“It kind of fits in with the theme of celebrating American independence by showcasing local, American-made art,” Applegate said.

To help showcase events like Liberty Days and the housewalk, Applegate said MDDP is in the process of designing and purchasing a new sign to be placed on the corner of Route 47 and Washington Street.

“It will be a directional sign showing people how to get downtown from Route 47,” Applegate said. “We might be using the pointing hand on some of our signs to direct them downtown to eat, shop and enjoy our businesses.”

She said the sign also will be equipped to hang banners that advertise local events held downtown.

“There will be a portion of the sign that will direct people to our events downtown,” Applegate said. “That way we can promote whatever events we have going downtown at that time.”

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