Front porch festivity

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Victorian Front Porch Tour slated for Dec. 10-14

By Rebekah Martin
Assistant Editor

“It’s just a magical event. It’s like walking straight into a Norman Rockwell Christmas,” said Roger Bell, the coordinator for the Victorian Front Porch Tour.
Opelika will kickoff the holiday season by celebrating its 21st year of the Victorian Front Porch Tour Dec. 10-14.
Bell said it takes a year of planning and work to have a successful tour every year.
“It’s a huge community involvement event,” Bell said. “The city is heavily involved, and so is the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau.”
The tour is completely free to the public.
“We never want to commercialize this event,” Bell said. “It’s important to us that the Victorian Front Porch Tour remains completely free.”
The event did not start out as the major attraction it is today. It began with a few people participating and with only a handful of figurines. Today the event has grown to involve nearly 90 figurines and 60 front porches.
Rose Ann Denson has been involved with the Victorian Front Porch Tour since the early years. She said community support for the tour has been an essential part of what makes the event so successful.
“With an event this size, we have been continually amazed at the spirit of the neighbors working together and allowing us to use the porches of their turn-of-the century homes as a backdrop for these displays – transforming the neighborhood into an old fashioned winter wonderland,” Denson said.
Bell said people from all over the state visit Opelika for the tour, and it has brought people from as far way as Oregon and New York.
“That’s the great thing about it: seeing the gleam in people’s eyes when they walk the tour,” Bell said. “When you have all the lights and figures set up, and they’re set against the backdrop of the beautiful architecture of the homes – it’s fascinating.”
The driving tours will begin Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. and will run until 10 p.m. Visitors can take the driving tour during those hours Dec 10-12 and Dec. 14.
The one-time-only walking tour will be Dec. 13 from 6-9 p.m. During the walking tour, both Eighth and Ninth streets will be closed off to vehicles from Second Avenue to Seventh Avenue.
If the weather permits, Mayor Gary Fuller will hold a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. on the corner of North Eighth Street and Second Avenue.
Various choir groups, pianists, violinists and live stage actors will perform throughout the walking tour. For a complete itinerary of scheduled performances, visit www.opelikavictorianfrontporchtour.com.
The tour, Bell said, is funded solely by donations.
“We want to continue to expand and offer Opelika something to be proud of,” Bell said. “We welcome donations of all kinds – supplies, money or volunteered time.”
It is not too late to volunteer for this year’s Victorian Front Porch tour. “We need and love our volunteers,” Bell said. To volunteer, contact Bell at 745-4739 or roger.bell@myops.net.
To contribute to the event in a monetary way, send checks made payable to the Opelika Victorian Front Porch Tour, 605 N. Eighth St., Opelika, AL, 36801.

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