Holy Trinity plans Christmas Tour of Homes

COURTESY PHOTO Above: Jeffrey Van Winkle displays his 32-piece Lenox nativity.

Five homes and one business will be included in the Holy Trinity Catholic School annual Christmas Tour of Homes planned from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4.

That day will also be their annual Christmas vendor/craft sale in the school’s multipurpose room. Tickets for the Tour of Homes can be purchased in advance at the school or church or purchased at the school on the day of the event.

“This is our first year back,” said Pam Hegg, Development Director at Holy Trinity Catholic School. “We didn’t do it the last two years because of COVID.

“It’s of major importance to the school, this helps support things not covered under the budget, things like tuition assistance,” she said. “Catholic education has been in Huron over 90 years now. It’s very important to the school to keep it going forward.”

Hegg said the annual Tour of Homes is a fundraiser many people look forward to during the Christmas season.

“I have to thank the people who allow us to showcase their homes,” she added. “The school is important to the community and it’s important that we support the school.”

Homes on the tour will include Wade and Janeen Kouf, 225 S. Circle Dr.; Lynn and Gloria Schneider, 900 Beach Ave. N.E.; Jeffrey Van Winkle, 616 Dakota Ave. S.; Jeff and Helen Trandall, 638 Oregon Ave. S.E., Alex and Jenny Sorben, 21562 Highway 37 S.; and East River Nursery, 5659 Dakota Ave. S.

The church will provide booties at each home for guests to wear.

Wade and Janeen Kouf
225 S. Circle Dr.

Janeen Kouf said they built their two-level home three years ago and will have different color-themed Christmas trees set up throughout.

“I love looking at people’s new homes,” Kouf said. “They can come in, look and maybe get creative ideas for their homes.”

Two big trees on the lower-level will be decorated in tones of blue and silver, with smaller trees in each of the bedrooms and one bathroom.

“Each tree is decorated in a different color theme,” she said. “One tree is flocked and it’s decorated only in red ornaments.

“I started decorating about two weeks ago. Since I work full time it’s a little here and there,” she added.

One decoration that is special to her is an embroidered tapestry of the nativity she made in high school.

“At the time I didn’t think much of it, but when I framed it, it became a favorite of mine,” Kouf said.

Lynn and Gloria Schneider
900 Beach Ave. N.E.

Gloria Schneider said she and Lynn moved into their home on the shores of Ravine Lake in 2005. The home was built in 1999.

“When they built it, it was a three-bedroom and simple,” Schneider said. “We built on about 13 years ago, we added a couple more bedrooms. When our family came it was not big enough. Actually, right now it’s a six-bedroom house.

“We have 16 people that can stay overnight or stay for a week, there’s plenty of room,” said Schneider, who has three sons and eight grandchildren. Two sons live in Brookings, and another son, who lived in the Chicago area for 20 years, just moved to Brandon this summer. “We’re happy about that,” added Schneider.

One special decoration that will be on display is an olive wood hand-carved nativity scene that they purchased in Bethlehem. “It will be among nativity scenes displayed in each room of our home,” she added.

Jeff and Helen Trandall
638 Oregon Ave. S.E.

Helen Trandall uses stunning artwork she has created to complement her decorations for Christmas.

“We have a lot of Christmas trees and trims, and basically I guess we have art that goes with it,” she said. “Basically, the décor goes with the era of the house.”

Their home was built in early 1918, with a main floor, second floor and lower level.

“I have seven trees decorated and the mantle in swags,” Trandall said. “I’ve done a lot of paintings, so I’m pairing paintings with the trees and the décor.

“I also have some murals in some of the rooms that go along with the paintings and Christmas trees,” she said. “The main floor is totally decorated to the theme of the house, to how the house should have looked in the Victorian era. I’ve decorated and created my paintings with that in mind.”

Everything is in the same coloration on the main floor, but go upstairs and you will find a flash of color.

“We go to something totally different,” she said. “Every room is done with something else in mind to make you feel a total experience. I have done everything in this house to make you feel like a place you would want to be.”

Alex and Jenny Sorben
21562 Highway 37 S.

Jenny Sorben and her husband, Alex, live six miles south of Huron on Highway 37. They started building their home in May 2019, and moved in on July 4, 2020.

Sorben said her husband, who is a contractor, built their home at night and on weekends.

“I would say the style is modern farmhouse,” Sorben said. “We looked for many years at different styles and layouts, and really made the home for us. We have three bedrooms and an office, and eventually the downstairs will have another two bedrooms.

“It’s been a labor of love, blood, sweat and teers,” she added. “We really love it out here and learning about country living.”

Their three-story home includes a walk-out basement, with an upper level balcony overlooking the family room, which has 19-foot ceilings and large windows overlooking the prairie.

Upstairs are bedrooms for their daughters, Taylor, who will be 11 just before Christmas, and Elizabeth who just turned 8. There is also a study area for them.

“We made the main floor really for us as we get older, with a bedroom, bathroom and connecting to the laundry room,” Sorben said. “As we get older we won’t have to go upstairs or downstairs. This definitely will be our forever home.”

They have wood laminate flooring and distressed planking for the ceiling. The home has three covered porches, one in back and two in front.

Visitors will see their large collection of framed concert posters, representing all the concerts the couple has attended throughout their courtship and marriage.

“My husband and I love to attend concerts,” Sorben said. “Instead of buying t-shirts, we buy posters. That’s our main decorations around the home. We have lots of good memories from the different concerts. That’s been really special to us.”

She will also have four Christmas trees on display, including a Harry Potter tree and a Grinch tree upstairs for the girls. She will display blue Wedgewood china she inherited from her grandparents on the dining room table, with a large tree decorated in light blue, whites and silver.

A tree will also hold the ornaments their children have made from preschool on up.

“Somewhere I have a really special nativity set that is called the ‘Dogtivity,’ with all different breeds of dogs,” Sorben said. “I will put that up this year. I’m excited for people to come out and see it.”

Outdoors they have garland decorating the porches — which was sold as a fundraiser by the local hockey team, which her daughters are part of.

Sorben said they plan to put in a 30-by-50-foot hockey rink in the backyard for their daughters to use this winter. “It will be a good-sized rink and we can watch them from the deck.”

Jeffrey Van Winkle
616 Dakota Ave. S.

Jeffrey Van Winkle, whose historic home is located on Angel Lane across from Campbell Park, will have seven Christmas trees and more than 40 Dickens Village buildings on display.

The trees — including two nine-foot tall — will be decorated with collections of glass, crystal and Swarovski ornaments and figurines that he and his late husband, Dr. Carl Blessinger, collected over the years.

“Pretty much all of the lighting itself is white,” Van Winkle said. “Each tree with ornaments and decorations is with a different color scheme. Gold and silver, blue and silver, one in the dining room is all blown glass with all different colors. The one that will be up in the formal living room will be a mixture of all the antique ornaments and other glass ornaments we picked up at auctions.”

Just how many decorations does he have? Van Winkle laughed and said he has never counted them.

“There are just totes and totes and totes of Christmas.”

He is also a florist, working mainly with silk arrangements. He owns Under the Rainbow store on Dakota Avenue, as well as the greenhouse on Old Highway 14, which used to be West Side Market.

One of his favorite decorations is a 32-piece Lenox nativity set given to him by a friend, which includes chickens, elephant and a camel.

“Some of them, if not the whole set, is discontinued,” Van Winkle said. “It’s one of my prized possessions.”

He began decorating about two weeks ago to be ready for the upcoming Tour of Homes.

“I haven’t had the whole house decorated since Carl passed in 2016,” Van Winkle said. “Even with Carl and I, we never put up this many trees. Once it’s done, it’s beautiful.”

Guests will tour the main level of the three-story home, which is accessible through the alley since there is no parking on Dakota Avenue. His is the second house north of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church.

East River Nursery
5659 Dakota Ave. S.

Julie Hoffman, owner of East River Nursery, said they will offer hot apple cider and gourmet treats — including cheeseballs, dips and breads — during the tour of homes.

“That is our collector’s weekend,” Hoffman said, who hosts an annual promotion of hand-blown glass ornaments, collectibles from other countries, and Fontanini — an Italian nativity collection that is durable and child-friendly.

“This is not your basic nativity,” Hoffman added. “This is a Bethlehem village. All the pieces are named. We have the innkeepers, Thadius and Elizabeth, Alexander the Centurian, little drummer boy.

“Our church has a very old Fontanini set,” she said. “It’s in Sunday school, the kids play with it. They’re awesome.”

Hoffman said door prizes will be given away for gift certificates toward collectibles.

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