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6th annual holiday tour held in Chaumont

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CHAUMONT — For most children, one of their fondest activities during the holiday season is seeing houses decorated and lit up. So the Lyme Community Foundation decided to embrace the festive spirit by offering its annual Holiday House Tour on Saturday evening.

“Everybody in this community decorates for Christmas. It is absolutely amazing,” said Julie A. Bocciolatt, who chairs the event with assistance from her daughter, Morgan.

Now in its sixth year, the driving tour began at the historic Alexander Copley House, 12030 State Route 12E, Chaumont, and wound through the village with several stops at homes and businesses. Each year different homes are featured.

Those who took the tour, which cost $20 per person, stepped inside four homes and saw how their families decorated for the holidays. One such home was that of Julie P. and Mark W. Maitag.

It may seem odd to open one’s home to strangers, but Mrs. Maitag simply said, “It’s a fantastic excuse to do some really good cleaning.”

The first thing visitors noticed in the Maitag home was the remarkably pleasant smell, which Mrs. Maitag attributed to the number of candles she had burning throughout the house.

The home’s history added an extra touch to the Christmas decorations. The home was built around 1864 by the wealthy Copley family. At one point it was the summer home of Inez de Wolff, a New York City opera singer. Resting on the family’s piano, which came with the home when Mrs. Maitag’s parents purchased it, is a photo of Ms. de Wolff.

The second home belonged to Tamasina M. and James A. Sharlow, 28399 Rockledge Drive.

To instill the holiday spirit, the Sharlows played Christmas tunes in their living room and laid out freshly baked bread and pies.

Beside the kitchen, a miniature train set circled a tall tree decorated with Disney-themed ornaments — both items a staple for the family during the season.

“The train is from when the (girls) were kids,” Mrs. Sharlow said. “The Disney ornaments came from a trip to Disney World.”

The home, hidden on a cozy side road, was built in 2006.

The home of Jerry and Deanna L. Lothrop, 28289 Rockledge Drive, was the third stop on the tour.

Mrs. Lothrop said decorating this year was not much different from previous years, even though she knew her home would be featured on the tour. However, she incorporated a few new touches.

“We used Pinterest to get new ideas for decorating,” Mrs. Lothrop said.

She made a snowman tree with a white Christmas tree and, instead of featuring candles in the windows, she put up solar lights. The only difficult part of decorating, she said, was getting her family to help put lights on the trees outside.

“I think people really like seeing other people’s houses,” she said. “Just decorate the way that is your family’s tradition.”

The tour wound down with stops at the Chaumont Presbyterian Church, 27532 Church St., the home of Lucas Hopkins and Amanda Miller, 27202 Independence Point Road, and Citizens Bank of Cape Vincent, 12068 State Route 12E. After that, guests returned to the Lyme community center at the Alexander Copley House for a catered reception provided by Paul D. Norton, an area businessman, and a performance of Christmas music by local band Transform.

In the past, the tour has drawn visitors from as far away as Utica. This year’s event drew an estimated crowd of 60, according to Ms. Bocciolatt.

Proceeds from the tour benefited the Lyme Community Foundation, which enhances the community through cooperation and learning. To learn more about the foundation, visit www.lymecommunityfoundation.org.

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