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Madison designer adds a touch of flair to homes tour
, Courier Staff Writer
Saturday, December 01, 2012 4:00 AM
Chris Albers models the bunny suit he wears while giving tours of the Kirk-Webster-Dorsey home, 613 W. Main St., during the Nights Before Christmas Candelight Tour of Homes. Albers helped decorate the house with “A Christmas Story” movie theme. Today is the final day of the tour. Hours are 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 15, and are available at the Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
At age 12, Cincinnati native Chris Albers told his parents that he planned to own a house in Madison some day.
But Albers didn't want just any house.
He wanted to own a home that would be featured in Jefferson County's Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes.
His dream stemmed from annual visits to Madison that he and his parents made from their home in Cincinnati to participate in the tour in the 1980s.
"I always told my parents I'd own a home on the tour," Albers said.
Albers dream came true. The home at 413 E. Third St., that he shares with his partner Aaron Lamson, was one of the private residences featured in the 2011 tour. More than 2,000 visitors walked through his home.
"Christmas has always been my passion," said Albers, an architectural designer.
He has spent years and years collecting decorations that adorn every room - including bathrooms and basement - and he continues to add new items each year.
Yet when Albers asked tour coordinator Marci Jones with VisitMadison, Inc. if the home could be part of the tour again in 2012, he found out new private homes are chosen each year. None of the same private homes have been repeated on the tour in the past nine years, Jones said.
So instead of decorating his own home for the tour this year, Albers volunteered to help other homeowners decorate their house.
"He's just crazy about Christmas," Jones said.
When two families asked for help with decorating ideas for the tour this year, Jones put them in contact with Albers who eagerly agreed to help. Volunteering his time and some of his own materials, Albers helped to decorate the Tonkin home on Baltimore Street and the Kirk-Webster-Dorsey home on Main Street for the annual tour.
"He loves it and he does a great job," Jones said. "He's been a great help to me."
While Albers went with traditional holiday decor at the Tonkin home, he decided to go with a theme at Kirk-Webster-Dorsey home. He decorated the home much like the movie "A Christmas Story" - complete with a leg lamp and bunny pajamas - along with other holiday decor in every room of the home.
"They let me have free reign," Albers said. "I kind of like over the top."
In addition to decorating the home, Albers also serves as a volunteer at the Kirk-Webster-Dorsey home by greeting visitors at the door - in the iconic bunny pajamas.
"A lot of the older people think I'm the Easter Bunny," Albers said, but other visitors easily link the pajamas to the 1983 holiday movie. "I made it very interactive."
Other decorations at the home also include the Red Ryder BB gun, broken glasses and other pieces that reference the film.
"I really ham it up," Albers said. "People are looking for over-the-top."
Albers began thinking of the themed idea in July, stopping at yard sales to look for creative ideas to go along with "A Christmas Story." While some of the decorations had to be purchased, other items - like the bunny pajamas - were simply borrowed for the event to help Albers and the Dorseys stay close to a budget.
Albers' extensive collection of Christmas items also helped with a little bit of the decorating expense. He shared some of his personal holiday decorations with the Dorseys for use during the tour, but still had plenty of items remaining to celebrate the holidays.
Keeping with his annual traditions, Albers decorated his own home during the first week of November. He added a new Christmas tree to the living room, along with the other decor throughout the home. Albers and Lamson also hosted a group of out-of-town visitors that stopped in Madison to shop on Main Street during the holiday season.
"I just love being a part of it," Albers said of the tour of homes. "I enjoy making things feel (festive)."
And he already has ideas for next year's Nights Before Christmas Tour of Homes should a homeowner need help with decorations. Albers hopes a homeowner might need some extra inspiration and allow him to create a home elf-themed home in 2013.
"I really hope they'll use me every year," Albers said. "I would do as many (homes) as I possibly could."
Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
PHOTOS: Rabbit Hutch
Nights Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
It's so great to see this kind of holiday spirit in our little town! Mr. Albers should head up the Christmas parade!
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12/1/2012 12:22:00 PM
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