Robert Noles/Opelika Observer
By Morgan Bryce
The 23rd annual Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour is returning Dec. 7-11. The tour consists of more than 60 seasonally decorated homes, each having either their own Santa or unique Christmas decorations. The event features driving and walking tours.
On the night of the walking tour, Dec. 10, there will be carolers and music groups performing, wassail and other refreshments at the Brownfield House, as well as roaming entertainment, adding a new twist to the tour.
“I’ve got some other plans in the works right now that will help add a lot of different entertainment, or roving entertainment as I call it … this year to entertain the crowds,” event director Roger Bell said.
Bell said that the Front Porch Tour has been recognized by multiple publications as one of the South’s premier Christmas events and has drawn crowds of more than 20,000 over the course of the four-day event. However, he said that they rely heavily on donations and fundraisers to sustain the beloved tradition.
“We aren’t on city funding, so we do rely on donations and fundraisers like the one we have online … it takes a lot to put on something like this every year,” Bell said.
The tour’s website has a link to a GoFundMe campaign that is used for the tour, and this year, a special silent auction of Christmas works by well-known artist Jo Ann Walker will be held at Southern Crossing, in order to boost funding for the event.
Bell, whose involvement in the tour spans nearly 16 years, said the 23-year-old tradition is becoming a multi-generational event.
“There are children who grew up coming to this event and taking pictures for Christmas cards on my front porch from the time they were kids to the time they become adults, so the fact that it’s been around long enough and you see generations and generations coming back to it, so that’s really neat,” Bell said. “It really brings the community together in a special way, and I think it’s a meaningful tradition that all Opelikans can embrace.”
The dates for the driving tour are Dec. 7-9, and Dec. 11 from 5-10 p.m. Beginning on North Eighth Street and Second Avenue, the tour includes more than 10 city blocks which will be closed off to traffic. On Dec. 10, the night of the walking tour, the event will kick off at 6 p.m. following the lighting of the tree by Mayor Gary Fuller and his wife Laura. For more information, find the event’s page on Facebook or visit http://www.opelikavictorianfrontporchtour.com.