Four families kicked off the 2007 Candlelight Home Tour with the purpose of igniting community wide holiday spirit while helping out downtown Waxahachie.

The four homes available for tour this weekend (tour hours are from 2 p.m. - 8 p.m.) are: Daniel and Leah Smith at 200 Oldham Ave.; Lynn and Melinda Fontenot at 1107 W. Marvin Ave.; Jeff and Sue Ellen Smith at 600 E. Jefferson St.; and Jerry and Shannon Almon at 1015 Main St.

The tour continues next weekend and concludes Dec. 8-9 with four new homes each weekend.

For all four families on this weekend’s tour, this is the first time they have participated in the Candlelight Home Tour.

The Almon’s house was renovated in 2005 in hopes of participating in community events such as the this one.

“When they asked me to do it, I wanted to help out the community and give recognition to Waxahachie,” Shannon said. “Plus, I know this helps out the downtown area.”

Sponsored by the Downtown Merchant’s Association, helping out the downtown area appeared to be a common theme for this year’s participants.

“The revenue helps preserve these historical buildings,” Leah Smith said. Her husband Daniel added, “It provides means for the historical preservation which is important for Waxahachie.”

For the Smith family, getting ready for this year’s tour required more than a month of preparation, which included one week of detailed wall painting that involved both Leah and Daniel hand-painting the wall design in the dining room.

“It took about six weeks to put it together — but (the response) has been great,” Daniel said. “I believe we have had around 200 visitors in the first three hours.”

Weeks of preparation is something Melinda Fontenot can relate to. Melinda and her husband Lynn spent more than a month getting everything ready for this weekend.

“We’ve probably spent around four weeks of decorating,” Melinda said. “I was probably the only house that had Christmas decorations up during Halloween.”

The Fontenots moved to Waxahachie from Marshall two years ago and appreciate the opportunity to meet new people.

“We’ve met a lot of nice folks and people really are appreciative of what you do,” Melinda said.

The efforts of the four families on this weekend’s tour is something that did not go unnoticed by the tourists.

“It’s nice for the people to open their homes to the community,” Tom McAfee said. “I’ve had a house on the tour before and it’s a lot of work. We appreciate what they do.”

Although the owners of the homes will get most of the credit for the turnout, Sue Ellen Smith knows it takes an effort greater than hers.

“It’s a community affair,” Sue Ellen said. “It’s great as long as you have friends who help you out. To help you show and decorate. They make all the difference.”

Part of the collaborative effort, is putting together unique Christmas items such as the one in Sue Ellen’s kitchen — Santa’s Marching Band.

The decorative set was made in the 1960s and was found by her brother at an auction show years back. Sue Ellen fell in love with it and wanted a set of her own. That’s when her husband Jeff took the initiative and sought out to find the band set for his wife. After a long search, he located the band from the North Pole on E-Bay. On a Valentine’s Day, he gave her the gift, in which Sue Ellen claims to be the best Valentine’s Day gift ever.

Items and stories, such as these, are the reason why individuals like Jane Peterson, of Duncanville, come back to take in the tour year after year.

“We’ve probably done the tour ever year since we moved down here,” said Peterson, who noted he is originally from Michigan. “I think it’s (Candlelight Home Tour) wonderful. Every time we come here we want to move down here. I just love Waxahachie. It’s just a beautiful town.”

Shannon Almon knows exactly what Peterson is expressing.

“I’ve lived here my entire life and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” Almon said.

The Candlelight Home Tours will continue today from 2 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Next weekend, Dec. 1-2, the tour will continue at four new locations. The Barnard Home at 103 Sumner Lane, the Deemy Home at 613 E. Marvin Ave., the Miles Home at 212 Spring Grove Drive and the Rogers Home at 608 W Marvin Ave.

The final weekend, Dec. 8-9, the tour will end at four new locations. The Blyth Home at 307 Brown St., the Davison-Yeager Home at 208 Oldham Ave., the Montejano - Mikula Home at 412 W. Marvin Ave. the Sanders Home at 707 W. Marvin Ave.

Individual tickets may be purchased per weekend for $15 at the homes on tour. Also, tickets can be purchased at the Waxahachie Chamber Of Commerce (102 YMCA Drive) or The Ellis County Museum (201 S. College Street). The tour is sponsored by Waxahachie Downtown Merchants Association, Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce and CVB.

E-mail Anthony at anthony.davila@wninews.com