Columbians decorate their home for the holidays and for a cause

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COLUMBIA - The holiday season is starting off festive in the Columbia Grasslands neighborhood. The Women's Symphony League is having their 34th Annual Holiday Home Tour this weekend. Columbia residents are encouraged to come out to tour the four participating homes which have every nook and cranny filled with Christmas decorations.

"It's a fundraiser and we use it for our conservatory, a group of 150 young people and we help find scholarships for them," Griggs said.

According to Griggs, the tour is very hands-on.

"You go in the home, you show them your ticket and then docents are in each room telling you the important things about that room, how the items were collected, the decorations that are in the room, "Griggs said. "So it helps you remember to have things pointed out and you can ask questions."

Griggs said planning the event began over a year ago. In previous years the homes were often scattered throughout Columbia. This year, however, things are a bit different.

"Lili Vianello and John Shrum were the first ones that volunteered their home and we got the idea of having them all in the Grasslands," Griggs said. "So, often you have to drive to all over town to visit the homes and these are all within walking distance."

Homeowners participating in the event often decorate the homes themselves. Some also get help from the Columbia Garden Club to decorate the homes.

"All of them [are] decorated differently based on the backgrounds of the owners and they're all in full attire with the holiday spirit and have all sorts of beautiful decorations for people to admire," Griggs said.

For Kay Kern, one of the co-chairmen for one of the homes, there's plenty about the homes that draws in people year after year.

"They usually have homes that are very interesting and different and people love to see how they've decorated for the holidays and how their homes are improved. Some are old. Some are new. Some are elaborate and some are just normal homes people would live in. But they're all unique and they all have something to offer just the average person," Kern said.   

The Holiday Home Tour is actually a fundraiser for the Women's Symphony League that they hold each year around the holidays. Kern, who is also a member of the league, asserts that raising the money each year is important.

"The reason the Women's Symphony League exists is to help the students," Kern said. "It's very expensive for parents to have a child who plays an instrument they not only have the expensive lessons and the instrument itself but every time they enter something or go somewhere or go to music camp and if you do many of those a year it's practically prohibitive for many."

Griggs had similar views on being able to help the students in the conservatory.  

"The music that's produced is so wonderful," Griggs said. "We're one of 400 communities in the entire United States that have a professional orchestra. So we are so lucky to have something like that here in Columbia. That in turn helps the young people who really want to have a career in music and to have a good experience."

With such an important cause in mind, Griggs said she is glad so many people come out to the tour each holiday season.

"I think it gets them in the Christmas spirit and also they have fun seeing the homes and I think they just enjoy being with friends," Griggs said. 

Griggs says they typically get hundreds of people at the event so there will be a shuttle taking people to the homes from A.L. Gustin Gold Course if parking becomes difficult. Tickets and exact locations of the homes can be found at McAdams Ltd, Hockman Interiors, all Hy-Vee locations, D&H on Broadway and on-line The cost of the tickets are $15, $20 at the door, and $10 each for groups with a minimum of ten people. 

The event started is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Refreshments and music will be at Provision Living at Columbia.