Rockwood taking break from annual home tour

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By Cindy Simpson

Rockwood 2000 celebrated its 21st Christmas Tour of Homes in 2011.
There won’t be a 22nd — at least, not this year.
“We couldn’t get enough homes to have a quality tour,” said Mary Kau, Rockwood 2000 president. “I’m afraid it would have been very disappointing with the few we were able to get signed up this year.”
The city’s revitalization, preservation and beautification organization will revisit the fundraiser again next year if more participants are interested in showing their homes.
“Without the quantity, we couldn’t have the quality, so we thought it would be better to not have it at all,” said Travis Comer, who helmed last year’s tour.
Kau and Comer said the decision to cancel the tour was a tough one.
“We are all sad about it because it had become a tradition,” Kau said. “We decided to take a hiatus one year and review it next year.”
Comer, for one, is looking forward to the 2013 tour possibilities.
“We’re optimistic about the future,” he said.
The tour, traditionally the first weekend in December, had grown into a Roane County holiday institution.
Tourists have been known to travel from other states to take in the sights and decorations adorning Rockwood’s Victorian-era homes along Kingston Avenue and beyond.
Businesses also got in on the action with décor representing blasts from the past. Historic productions and Civil War re-enactments and encampments were regularly part of the festivities.
For Comer, the home tour was the start of his holiday festivities.
“I grew up with the home tour,” he remembered. “The home tour is what kicked off my Christmas.”
Comer grew up across the street from the late Judy and Stan Wassom. The couple, a driving force behind the tour, opened up their historic home to the public each year on tour weekends.
Judy, a founding member of Rockwood 2000, put her heart into the city, and the tour was one of her prized times each year.
An avid historian, Stan provided insight and knowledge and introduced the re-enactments as part of the tour, with encampments near the Wassom home.
Comer said Christmas decorations at the Wassom’s house went up early.
“The first of November the wreaths were going up, the garland was going up. That was the official hurrah for Christmas,” Comer said.
Typically, Rockwood 2000 showcased at least eight homes on the tour, but a number of factors made it hard to find those willing to participate.
“Some of the homes we’d like to have on the tour are now vacant,” Kau said.
Comer encouraged those who need a home tour kick to visit Historic Harriman’s Christmas Tour, which is from noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 8 and from 1 to 6 p.m. Dec. 9.
Tickets are $15.
Comer is helping friend Larry Goldston prepare his home for the Harriman tour and said they’ve already put hours into making it ready.
“His house is going to be ridiculous this year,” Comer gushed.