The Delta Delta Christmas Tour of Homes, sponsored yearly by the Alvin chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, began in 1984, after a state official in the society challenged all of its members by asking what their communities might remember their chapters for if those chapters dissolved. Under the leadership of President Lois Leitner Horner, Delta Delta’s busy women educators sought a way to capitalize on chapter talent for just one day in order to raise money to benefit their community as well as provide scholarships.
Today the event is still sponsored by the chapter of local women active in or retired from education professions, and it is still a fundraiser to help provide one or two scholarships per year to local college/university women. But over time, many aspects of the event have changed — all for the better.
This year’s event will be Dec. 8, the second Sunday in December rather than the first. And it will be from 1 to 5 p.m. not 2 to 6 p.m. as in “the old days.” It still takes place rain or shine because the sites and the Delta Delta workforce are set to be available on that day. But it ends before the bright beauty of outdoor lighting and decorations becomes more visible during darkness.
There are other distinct differences in today’s event and the ones that came before. When women like Carolyn York, Mary Moen, Myra Wharton and Sammie Henry organized and perpetuated it (during the presidencies of former Alvinites like Cleo Congrady and Paulette Brumbelow), they tried to find as many homes as possible to feature on the tour (usually five to seven), and they always made sure that one home had space available for a sale of baked goods and craft items — all provided by Delta Delta members and displayed in a pool house, garage, family room, porch, etc. Flyers with maps as well as tickets with detailed directions to each venue were tedious to create in a time when computers weren’t prevalent, but necessary in helping patrons to navigate between all the sites during a four-hour timespan.
Today, newer, younger members of Delta Delta are bringing the event into the 21st Century. They are adding some spice to what continues to be one of Alvin’s favorite ways of getting into the holiday spirit. There are generally fewer sites on the tour, and they are not all new homes, or even homes. The event has featured Alvin Historical Museum, a model home or two over the years, and even an appealing double-wide trailer home one year. Today, the two to four homes on tour are usually a combination of newer and older ones, sometimes including one or two from past tours after renovations or new ownership. Homes that are featured can be large or small and can vary from being decorated to the hilt, country themed or simply discreet.
In a time of GPS and cell phones, the tickets are streamlined, and the flyers might have a small map or two, but they no longer have a large map of the entire area of the tour. And this year’s Tour of Homes planning team – Chairman Becky Llenos and her three main collaborators (Cathy Hall, Susan Hoover and Rose King) – has not only introduced beautiful tour signs for posting in all members’ front yards to advertise the event, but has found eight area businesses and individuals willing to donate dollars to sponsor the four sites, providing even more money for the Delta Delta Scholarship Fund.
The Reyes Realty Group (Yvette Hall Reyes) and Terry and Jody Droege are sponsoring Glenn and Geri Foster’s home in the Kendall Lakes subdivision north of Alvin. RE/MAX American Dream (Lindsey Vaughn) and Kibbe and Poole, PC, CPAs are sponsoring Randy and Khristey Reeves’ home near downtown on Sidnor Street. And Tiffany Wennerstrom and Alvin Pest Control are sponsors of Jon and Ann-Marie Jernigan’s home in the Bayou Timbers subdivision, off FM 2917 south of Alvin.
The sale – now a sale of seasonal foods – is held in the historic Alvin Train Depot on Willis Street, which is always beautifully dressed for the holidays. There the city’s Keep Alvin Beautiful Committee always adds to the festive mood by providing an open house with refreshments. Chairman Joan Pagan and her team of fundraising committee members will staff sale tables as well as provide a table for the purchase of $10 tour tickets, which will also be available at the three other sites during the hours of the event. Foods in the sale are no longer just pies, cakes, breads and cookies; there are even cheese balls, candies, jams and jellies, or sometimes “edible mice” and recipes, etc. Many of the foods are appealingly packaged for gift-giving or safely packaged for freezing. Betty Herndon/Realty Associates and Amoco Federal Credit Union are sponsoring the sale site. No ticket is necessary for visiting the depot or purchasing sale items.
Although only $10 tickets will be available at all four sites on the day of the event, throughout November and early December, $8 advance tickets can be purchased from Delta Delta members; during business hours at Alvin-Manvel Area Chamber of Commerce, New Beginnings Florist and Da Vinci Salon; and during open times at Alvin Historical Museum. Children under 12 will need no tickets but should be accompanied by an adult.
The advance ticket sellers – like Dreyfus Printing – are among other Alvin businesses that have continued to support Delta Delta’s event in one way or another over the years.
As in the past, proceeds from the tour and food sale will benefit the Women’s Center of Brazoria County and Delta Delta’s Leadership Development Fund and will help to fund Delta Delta scholarships.