When one walks inside the home of Steve Kovar, he or she can’t help but feel like they have been sucked into a time warp back to the days when eggnog flowed freely, “Jingle Bell Rock” reverberated through all corners of the house, and people looked forward all year to the day when they could unwrap each of their presents.
That description is a bit of an exaggeration, but Kovar’s house is filled to the brim with Christmas spirit, as are the other five homes and businesses that will make up this year’s St. Anthony’s School Tour of Homes, set to take place from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.
Tickets for the event are $12 and will include a beverage and dessert to be served in the school cafeteria. All proceeds for the event will go toward the St. Anthony’s Home & School Association, providing funds for school security, teacher needs and future scholarships.
A variety of soups and sandwiches will also be available for an additional fee; that meal ticket will also make one eligible for some impressive prizes, including a TV, a tree of lottery tickets, a spa package and a night out for four, as part of a raffle.
The event’s main purpose won’t change, but who runs it is different than in the past. The St. Theresa Sodality has run the event for a little over a decade and seen the event grow over the past several years. But, it became more difficult for the Sodality to convince houses to participate in the event and keep up with the demand of running it. Thus, those involved with St. Anthony's Home & School took over the efforts this year.
“They don’t want to keep up with the managing of it because it keeps getting bigger and better,” said Julie Urkoski, an office manager for Thrivent Financial and one of the main operators of this year’s Tour. “They are turning it over to St. Anthony’s, and with that, we hope to establish many great and new traditions.”
The hope is to build on what the Sodality started 12 years ago, finding more homes like Kovar’s. He has been collecting Christmas trees and collectibles for the last 45 years, and he finds great joy in seeing rare Christmas items that would otherwise be lost to time.
“I’ve just enjoyed the collecting of the ornaments,” Kovar said. “It’s taken many, many years to get this type of collection of ornaments, and in this day and age, many of them are so rare, you can’t find them anymore. They’re very hard to come by, and if you find them, they’re more on the pricey side. After 40-something years of finding ornaments, you manage to get quite a few accumulated.”
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Several other homes will join Kovar’s on the Christmas tour, including Cathy Hutchinson, who may not have the overall tonnage of items that Kovar does, but has prepared well. After all, she has already gotten everything up that she needs for the event.
“I got a little bit nervous, so I got some friends over and got most of it done this weekend,” Hutchinson said on Thursday.
Those nerves are shared by the organizers of the event, who will now walk in the footsteps of what the St. Theresa group has done for more than a decade. They are hopeful that they can continue to expand the event beyond what it is and build a brand new tradition on top of what has already been a unique event in Columbus.
“I don’t think our expectations have changed, because we still want people to come, enjoy the decorations (and) enjoy the fellowship,” Urkoski said. “I don’t think any of that has changed.
“There has always been anticipation with trying something new, but it’s definitely something that’s going to be beneficial to the school. We’re very happy to be keeping that tradition at St. Anthony’s.”
Tickets can be purchased at the St. Anthony's Catholic Church office, 562 17th Ave; St. Anthony's School, 1719 Sixth St.; or at Salon.cek Hair & Spa, 2411 13th St. Tickets can be purchased up until Dec. 5.
Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.