Special to The Lake Report
Ninety-two-year-old Diane Armstrong has many happy memories of her life in Niagara-on the-Lake, but one in particular stands out.
Every year she and her friend Miriam Nixon would be among the first to volunteer for the Rotary Club’s annual Holiday House Tour and they couldn’t wait for the weekend to arrive.
“The houses were always so beautiful. It was such fun to see them from the inside and the owners were so appreciative of everything we did,” she says.
“What I particularly loved was meeting the people who came back year after year to enjoy this wonderful event. It really set the tone for the entire Christmas season. “
“I miss doing that,” she finished a little wistfully.
Once again, NOTL Rotary is working hard to ensure that this is the most successful Holiday House Tour ever, and once again the organizers are counting on volunteers like Armstrong to help make that happen.
Almost all the tours are already sold out, but Rotary still needs more volunteers to help out.
As well, several entertainers have already jumped on board: Juliet Dunn and her pianist Doug Mundy will be entertaining guests at the Gate Street Studio; Brock University’s Avanti Chamber Singers will be performing at the front of McArthur Estate, and the Bethany Bell Choir at the rear.
Inside, the ever-popular Eddie Pizzo will be tickling the keyboards with holiday tunes: new recruits to the event, the Soenen Sisters Trio with harp, flute and cello will be performing in front of the fireplace, and guitarist Will Wilson will be undercover near wine stations outside.
In keeping with the evening event’s Victorian theme, the NOTL Museum is lending authentic Victorian costumes to some of the volunteers, and once again The Friends of Fort George, dressed in full period uniform, will be conducting guided tours around the McArthur Estate Gardens.
Most important though, will be the dozens of residents who volunteer for the role Armstrong loved so much — helping guide guests through the houses that have been chosen for this year’s tour and acting as the eyes and ears of the homeowners.
Spots are filling up quickly but there is still an urgent need for more volunteers.
Shifts are only four hours long, with breaks and refreshments available during that time. And, in addition to making new friends and being part of something important, volunteers will each be given a free pass to the day tour, which can be used any time during the two-day event.
All proceeds will be distributed to local and international Rotary projects around the world.
Recipients here include organizations such as Red Roof Retreat, NOTL Palliative Care, Yellow Door Theatre Project, school lunch programs in St. Catharines and many more.
Internationally, Rotary Clubs everywhere have been part of the organization’s long-running End Polio project, which has helped wipe out the disease almost everywhere in the world.
Your volunteer assistance will also help fund disaster relief in Ukraine, water projects in Kenya and dozens of other causes that are saving lives around the globe.
If you would like to be part of this special event, grab a friend and go directly to the tour website at holidayhousetournotl.ca.
Scroll down to the Volunteer section, then click the sign-up link, which takes you to a page with available time slots.
You can choose to volunteer at any house where there are still vacancies and any time slots that are still open on Friday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 2 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.
If you have any problems, email Rotaryhht@gmail.com for help.
It takes a village like ours to make an event like this successful, and once again this year the Rotary Club needs your help to make that happen.