One of the most popular events in Bedford at this time of year is the Holiday House Tour, organized by local realtor Suzanne & Company.
As has been the case during the Covid pandemic, this was the Front Steps Edition of the tour. In the past, people on the tour could enter participants’ homes, but during the pandemic, people needed to stay outside to enjoy the many outdoor decorations.
People who signed up for the tour received a map showing the location of the homes involved and also a listing of special events connected to the house viewings. But even with the restrictions, there was still the opportunity for a lot of holiday fun.
The tradition of the Holiday House Tour began more than 10 years ago when Maureen Sullivan, who was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, brought the idea to the group. It has been a part of the community’s holiday happenings ever since.
All of the proceeds from the Holiday House Tour are donated to help Bedford families in need. Suzanne & Company works with the schools, police department, fire department, and town officials to discreetly distribute the funds directly to families in the community to help brighten their holiday season.
The day of the tour this year was Sunday, Dec. 11 and it was cold and overcast. Not the best day for sightseeing, but my husband, Bob Batt, and I started out with our map.
The tour was officially open from 2 to 7 p.m. There were interesting extra attractions along the way. Participants were also instructed to look for Santa’s reindeer. There were nine reindeer to be found in the scavenger hunt and all we had to do was note at which house we found them. At the end of the tour, we could turn in our list and perhaps win a prize.
Our first stop was at one of our favorite places in Bedford – the Chip-In Farm Stand and General Store. Here, we met Sandy Alexander, who had once been our neighbor. She and her two friends, Sandy Baker and Linda Langone, were also just starting on the tour.
Inside, tour participants were each given a dozen eggs by the Couvee family, who owns the farm stand.
With our map in hand, we continued the tour. At the first house, we got out and took pictures. It was there that we felt the first snowflakes! How special to have some light snow falling while on our tour.
At the third house, which was decorated very nicely, we were greeted by a young man who had been outside playing basketball while waiting for admirers to come by. Here, to our delight and surprise, we found the first of Santa’s Reindeer.
Our next stop was at the home of Suzanne Koller, one of the organizers of the tour. We enjoyed listening to the Regency Brass play Christmas carols. There was also an inviting fire pit with comfortable chairs.
We headed for the area where we could take a carriage ride. On the carriage, we were joined by the women we had met earlier. It seemed to be getting colder, but how could we refuse a carriage pulled by horses that had come all the way from Martha’s Vineyard with their owners, Bruce and Laura Marshard?
Bedford Police Officer Justin Brooks was directing traffic so the carriage could safely go a short distance down Davis Road before turning off into a field. The ride was fun, but we were now cold and were looking forward to the hot chocolate along with delicious toppings provided by Express Pizza.
As we were leaving, we saw that now the carriage had three little boys in it and they seemed to be having a grand time.
We continued on the tour admiring the decorated homes that were participating as well as looking to find another one of Santa’s reindeer.
At one stop, children sat in a picture window waving to those who stopped to see their holiday decorations. Our next stop was at 90 Great Road where we found Santa Claus!
A lot of photos were taken of Santa with children. When we arrived, Luke, Colin, and Peyton Castillo were having their turn for photos with Santa. The members of Suzanne and Company made everyone feel very welcome there. We even got candy canes.
At this point, the snow was making the streets slippery, but we continued on the tour taking pictures of the houses all decorated for the holidays.
Our next stop was at the home of Mika Cieplinski, who has three one-year-old goats that she keeps in a pen in the back of her house. She was proud to show off her pets.
Our next and last stop was at the Churchill Stables at Huckins Farm. Here, we found children petting horses in the barn
s and having a great time.
The horses and barn are a part of Reinbow Therapy, which provides occupational therapy services for people as young as two-years-old to adults with special needs. Monica Wu, who runs Reinbow Therapy, provided a quick tour of the barn, talking about the program. To learn more, check online at https://reinbowtherapy.org/ or visit this outstanding resource in person.
While we enjoyed seeing the various decorations at each of the houses on the tour, it was the children we remembered most at the end of the day. Children who waited for visitors to view their holiday decorations. Children who took carriage rides and drank hot chocolate. Children who sat with Santa Claus. Children who shared their pets. Children who petted horses. What could be more wonderful? All this with the addition of falling snow and an event that earned money for those in need in our town. And we never did find all of Santa’s reindeer.