- July 10, 2019
West Orange residents will have a new way to celebrate the holidays this year.
Newly formed nonprofit Eight Waves is hosting a new event, the Holiday Tour of Homes, Saturday, Dec. 17.
Although there are only a limited amount of tickets left, tickets are available for four different times: 5, 5:45, 6:30 and 7:15 p.m.
The holiday experience, presented by Meritage Homes and The Keewin Real Property Company, will take place in Oakland and Winter Garden, where participants will experience a unique evening of touring four estate homes, all decked out in holiday finery. The event includes live music, and a food tour that begins with appetizers and ends with decadent desserts.
Tickets include a progressive dinner, drinks, desserts and transportation from home to home. Participants can also upgrade their tickets with a VIP horse-drawn carriage ride to see the holiday lights sponsored by Bill and Cindy Perry.
“Anything that we can do to help bring awareness to the organization so that we can have more volunteers, more people that are helping in our after-school program, more people that are taking kids on life experiences, showing them what their family is like or what a college experience could be,” said Kelly Carr, director of operations and programs for Eight Waves. “Any of the opportunities that we have to be able to help support the children and families here is what’s most important to me with this event.”
The idea for the event came from Eight Waves board members Deb Melnick and Meredith Rosser. Although similar events had been done before in other communities, the experience had never been done locally.
For the event’s first year, about 160 people will attend the event and travel in four groups by valet bus transportation to each holiday home.
Carr said she thinks locals are intrigued by the surprise element of the event where they have no idea where the homes will be or what awaits them along the way.
The leaders of Eight Waves said they are hoping to reach their goal of about $30,000, with funds going directly to the programs. The money can help the after-school program, provide meals or hygiene items for families in need, assist with the community outreaches, and more.
“We have kids and families (who) need help and support right here in our community, and a lot of times, people think about going abroad to help, which I’ve done and is an amazing opportunity,” Carr said. “But when we have people right here in our own backyard that we could be helping … if people don’t know about the opportunity, then they’re not able to help. We probably have a lot of people (who) are willing and able to help but are not aware that there is this need.”
Eight Waves’ leaders said they hope to make the tradition an annual event, and although some aspects may change, such as the potential of walking from home to home, changing the visited houses or expanding the event slightly while still keeping the experience intimate, the foundation of the event will remain the same.
“I’m not an event planner, and my background is in education, and through working in this nonprofit, I have done a lot of things I never thought I would ever do,” Carr said. “Planning an event is one of them … but it always comes back to the kids. We’re doing this for these kids and for the families, and our goal is to help support them, so that they are able to be successful and continue toward their goals.
Without the support and without us speaking life into them, I think that they are faced with so many challenges daily, and it’s easier to quit and give up. I think it’s important for us to be here to help support them and let them know that we believe that they’re able to reach their goals. Every decision that we have made for this event is for the kids who come here.”
Food and beverage sponsors include Crooked Can, Market to Table, Miller’s Ale House, The Southern on 8th, Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits, Cheers Liquor Store, Worthy Cakes and Nosh Popcorn. Other sponsors are Orlando Health, Seacoast Bank, Carr’s Flooring America, HomeRun Pest Control, Schmid Construction, Foshee Construction, Clancy & Theys Construction, We Are Winter Garden, City of Winter Garden, One Winter Garden, Farm Nine, The Bacha Family, J & J Building, Hope Church and Imagine that Promo.