It was a huge success, with over one thousand guests touring a selection of heritage and unique homes in five hours. The tour booklet was photocopied and contained a short description and a hand-drawn sketch of each house. KDHS art students made the sketches. Tour guests could leave their vehicles behind, and an army of volunteers, primarily high school teachers, chauffeured them back and forth to each home—a reception followed in the high school cafeteria with home-baked goodies, tea and coffee. Local businesses generously donated door prizes for this event.
Ten years later, in 2001, a group of dedicated volunteers decided to make the Kingsville Christmas House Tour an annual fundraising event to support the gymnatorium, now called Migration Community Hall. The tour continued each year except for the two-year hiatus for Covid-19 but has evolved over the past twenty years to become a much-anticipated start to the holiday season in our community.
A combination of hard-working core committee members, numerous volunteers, talented local designers, decorators and florists work together each year to create a curated list of distinctively decorated homes for tour guests. The Kingsville Reporter was tasked with printing the tour booklet. Photographs were included with a detailed description of each home. The renovated Kingsville Train Station hosted the reception for a few years in the early 2000s. In 2006, the tour expanded to include Sundays, and mid-November was the preferred date.
In 2008, a lasting partnership with Pelee Island Winery began when winemaker Walter Schmoranz invited the Kingsville Christmas House Tour Committee to use their lower-level rooms as a reception space. Local restaurants donated a variety of savoury bites and sweet treats for the plates. A complimentary glass of wine and coffee, tea, and cider were served. The overwhelming success of this event has grown into an experience that brings together friends, families and neighbours in Kingsville, Essex County and beyond. Weekend attendance at this event has varied between 600-1000 people.
The Town of Kingsville has piggy-backed on the tour weekend to hold its evening Christmas Parade, Fantasy of Lights opening ceremony, and fireworks. Many local businesses hold open houses and memorable Christmas events then, as well. This has made the tour weekend in Kingsville an exciting time for everyone. This year (2023), the Kingsville Christmas House Tour will be held on Nov. 18th and 19th, 2023.