Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 19, 2013

Christmas Tour of Homes ignites and excites

By Rebekah K. Bohannon Beele

CROSSVILLE — The Lake Tansi Christmas Tour of Homes featured four impeccable homes complete with decked halls and boughs of holly. The proceeds from the Dec. 8 event were to benefit the LT Exchange Club’s work through organizations such as the Avalon Center, Stephen’s Center, United Fund and Tad Center, among others, to prevent child abuse.

“We really appreciate those who opened their homes to be viewed for this event and the Bank of Cumberland County for their generosity,” said event organizer and Exchange Club member, Pat Camacci. “It is because of our supporters this Exchange Club has been able to raise and donate over $550,000." Ninety-five percent of that went toward child abuse prevention while the remainder went toward community activities.

From stockings hung by the fireplace with care to classic cars in the garage dressed in oversized Christmas bows, the Lake Tansi Christmas Tour of Homes had it all. Betty and Dick Campbell’s home exudes patient and eclectic designs. The collection of furniture and accents has one theme- Betty’s got a good eye. She sees something she likes and is able, somehow, to incorporate it into her décor. A gorgeous tree stood near the mantel and throughout the house Christmas was outdone but not overdone, still allowing her home to feel like home. Then, there’s the Campbell’s basement. Much like the basement of the Louvre, the Campbell’s basement conceals the couple’s best kept treasure – a full-fledged 1950’s themed soda fountain. The diner booth, bar and stools, juke box, mid-century table and chairs, checkered tile flooring, chrome and a huge mural that ties it all together made tour visitors want to air out their poodle skirts and saddle oxfords.

Joanne and Marvin Wyatt’s home welcomed tourists with snowman cookies and cider. Joanne Wyatt’s collection of more than 800 adorable snowmen were set in snow scenes, tablescapes, Christmas trees, anywhere and everywhere. In an impressive display of her handiwork, Wyatt’s quilts were draped up wooden apple ladders from the floor to the ceiling. Each quilt, with vibrant colors and designs, brought out the comfort of a Tennessee home at Christmas.

Larry and Heidi Smith, and five of their seven children, received guests into their beautiful home, which donned handsomely lit, floor-sized manger scenes, snow villages and Christmas trees in nearly every room. Larry Smith began decorating for Christmas the day after Halloween and the Smith’s children assisted with the steady stream of tourists ogling the multi-faceted floor displays and Christmas decorations. Each of the five children still living at home were given a tree in their bedrooms to personalize.

Susan and Patrick Kirby opened their striking home, finished in 2007, for the tour. Every detail of the house, down to the color of the stone and cabinetry, is a reflection of Susan’s style – neat, elegant and sensible. Kirby had her large reindeer statue near the entrance to greet callers. Her classy collections of vintage Christmas books and teapots were exhibited, as well as a tall, manicured, perfectly posh tree full of beautiful ornaments – one of which was of a pretty spider that not only served as a conversation piece, but is Kirby’s favorite ornament because it came with a story. According to Kirby, legend has it that a spider spun her webs all over an evergreen tree, but was sadly caught in the morning dew. The glistening strands of her webs shone so beautifully in the early light that it inspired the creation of tinsel.

Each of the homes on the Lake Tansi Christmas tour offered so many seasonal decorating, architectural and interior design perspectives and ideas. Refreshments, donated by Cumberland County Bank, were offered back at the Thunderbird Recreation Center for famished tourists. The bank staff put out a spread of ham, rolls, Swedish meatballs, croissant sammies, fruit and brownies, happily served by Tansi branch manager, Mary Settles and bank event coordinator, Mitch Jones.

“We at Cumberland County Bank support the Exchange Club’s efforts to prevent child abuse and are happy to be a part of those efforts and make a difference in the community,” said Settles. “It’s about community involvement and outreach,” Jones agreed. “One thing about Cumberland County Bank is that it doesn’t stop at 4:30 p.m.”

The Lake Tansi Exchange Club acts as a community service organization, offering provisions to the area and activities in addition to supporting groups that cater to the needs of Cumberland County youth. For more information about the Lake Tansi Exchange Club and upcoming events visit or call Pat and John Sohmer at 931-788-2735.