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Wayne Post
  • Penfield 'empty nesters' hosting holiday home tour for charity

  • For the last eight years, Charlie and Cora Venishel of Penfield have been using their love of decorating for a good cause.



    Their home on Henderson Drive is hard to miss, from the thousands of lights on the outside to the elaborate decor in each of the rooms inside. Each December, they charge admission for guests to take a tour of the house with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House.

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  • For the last eight years, Charlie and Cora Venishel of Penfield have been using their love of decorating for a good cause.
    Their home on Henderson Drive is hard to miss, from the thousands of lights on the outside to the elaborate decor in each of the rooms inside. Each December, they charge admission for guests to take a tour of the house with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House.
    Visitors can take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus or simply walk through the house to look at the rooms, decorated from floor to ceiling with a different theme. One room is a life-sized gingerbread house, a Charles Dickens porcelain village display, and plenty of nutcrackers.
    The couple have always been enthusiastic decorators, but first started opening their home to visitors in 2004. They started the tradition when they moved to Penfield from Canadice, NY.
    Since their children had grown up and moved out of state, it was difficult to become “empty nesters," Cora explained.
    “There was no reason to decorate because none of them could come home.”
    But they did eventually bring out the decorations and transformed their home into a sparkling spectacle. They then made invitations and went door to door inviting their neighbors to come see it.
    “Of course they looked at us like we were off the wall, but when we turned the lights on for the first time, people were blown away,” said Cora.
    They eventually decided to turn the house into a yearly attraction, charge admission and donate the proceeds to Ronald McDonald House. It’s a cause that hits close to home for them because their family has stayed overnight at the House while their niece, who has Down syndrome and another medical disorder, received treatment.
    “We know what the money's for, and that makes a big difference,” said Charlie. “You feel more connected to what you’re doing.”
    To date, the event has raised over $10,000 for the charity. The tour will run for two more weekends before it wraps up for the year.
    Getting the house ready is a lengthy task that starts as early as October. Charlie (who dresses up as Santa) said that seeing the looks of wonderment on people’s faces makes all the effort worthwhile.
    “That's what we enjoy — the spirit of it all,” he said. “To have people come into your home not just to see all the beautiful things, but to feel comfortable.”
     
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