COVID-19 tolls neighborhood fundraising
Communities deal with losses from canceled home tours
The coronavirus keeps slamming neighborhood non-profits and decadesold annual fundraisers, and it’s putting a dent in neighborhood improvements and charity fundraising as well.
For many neighborhoods, annual home shows and tours serve multiple purposes. They can provide individuals a glimpse of life in certain neighborhoods and sometimes even promoting home buying.
But the revenues from the ticket sales also help fund improvements to city parks and street medians, finance volunteer organizations, and promote community in historic areas of Oklahoma City.
“Funds that pay for common area maintenance and capital projects are generated through association events like home tours,” said Deborah Saunders, a real estate agent who lives in Linwood Place, south of NW 23, east of Interstate 44.
Some events are still in the works for
the rest of 2021. But as the pandemic roars on, several events were canceled or altered for another year, leaving many organizations bereft of their traditional funding mechanisms.
Miller in May, northwest of downtown Oklahoma City, didn’t happen again this year.
The Gatewood Home Tour, which covers the neighborhood near the Plaza District, won’t happen for the second year.
And Quail Creek, 2 square miles of homes south of the Kilpatrick Turnpike and east of Portland Avenue, was closed to the public again, but had a garden tour.
This year’s Parade of Homes Fall Classic will have fewer homes, again.
Gatewood was still planning its home tour, held around Halloween, as recently as late September, but instead will have a neighborhood happy hour at Oak & Oar, according to the Gatewood Facebook page.
Mesta Park’s Holiday Home Tour is still up in the air. Plans will be posted at www.mestapark.org/.
“We will have an event of some kind, but are currently working on what it will look like given COVID concerns with an indoor tour. It will be held in early December,” resident Lindsey McCarty said of the neighborhood due west of Heritage Hills, which is north of downtown.
Here are some other tours and ways to support living in historic Oklahoma City neighborhoods, as well as the non-profit trade group that shows off new subdivisions with the Parade of Homes.
Parade of Homes Fall Classic
The Parade of Homes Fall Classic promotes the homebuilding industry and trends in construction, not one specific neighborhood,
The parade will feature 71 new homes by 39 builders, said Elisa McAlister, executive officer for Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association, which has organized it since 1945. The number of entries is down from the usual 115 or so, she said.
“Our builders are selling homes faster than they can finish building them,” she said, noting that home construction costs in Oklahoma have jumped 22.4% during the pandemic. “This is contributing to our lower number of homes featured in the parade.”
The smaller parade is due to the hot housing market, which is due partly to historically low mortgage rates kept low by the federal government since last year to help keep the economy afloat during the pandemic.
In addition to the low loan rates, builders are dealing with high construction costs and supply disruptions stemming from coronavirus-related shut
“Our builders are also running into major supply chain issues and material shortages along with increased costs, which is impacting their ability to build and complete homes,” McAlister said. “Homes are taking longer to complete in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic.”
The event will be from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday and again Oct. 22-24 with new homes open free to the public across the metro area. Get details at www.paradeofhomesok.com/.
Linwood Place Tour of Historic Homes
The Linwood Place Tour of Historic Homes promotes historic preservation and life in the historic neighborhood.
It’s the funding mechanism for neighborhood improvements carried out by volunteers. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic threatened to set back advances under way for decades in Linwood Place and the city’s other oldest neighborhoods, Saunders said.
“Volunteers that give hundreds of hours each year to keep our neighborhood thriving depend on fundraisers to accomplish association goals,” Saunders said.
Linwood Place, bounded by NW 23, NW 16, Drexel Boulevard and Interstate 44, was platted in 1909 and, with its extra-large lots, was first promoted as a community of “country estates” away from the bustling city.
Linwoood Place was Oklahoma City’s first Urban Conservation District. It was the home of early city business leaders including Chris Schwab of Schwab Meat Co., Bill Cain of Cain’s Coffee Co., and Walter Kamp of Kamp’s Grocery.
It will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Buy tickets at www.linwoodplaceokc.com/.
Heritage Hills Historic Home Tour
The 55th annual Heritage Hills Historic Home Tour, just north of downtown, with some of the city’s largest and most historic mansions, celebrates the first Historic Preservation District in Oklahoma, created by city ordinance in 1969.
This tour “offers the exciting chance to see inside some of Oklahoma City’s most beautiful historic homes,” organizers said.
Architectural styles on display include Prairie School, Greek Revival, Neoclassical, Craftsman, Colonial/Georgian Revival, Mission Revival, Tudor Revival, American Foursquare, and Dutch Colonial Revival.
Money raised goes to the upkeep of Pearl Mesta Park, the tree-lined Robinson Avenue median and several other parks and green spaces.
The tour will be from noon to 5 p.m. the weekend of Oct. 23-24. A shuttle will be available. Buy tickets at
Nichols Hills Kitchen Tour
The annual Nichols Hills Kitchen Tour, organized by the Oklahoma County Medical Society Alliance, showcases design trends and the culinary arts to raise money for outside charities.
“Due to the pandemic, we had to cancel the 2020 Kitchen Tour but promised our beneficiaries the fundraising in 2021,” the alliance says.
The beneficiaries are Independent Transportation Network Central Oklahoma, which provides “dignified transportation” for seniors, and Shepard’s Watch, which raises awareness about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, unsafe sleep surfaces, and baby safety.
The 29th Kitchen Tour, will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 at several homes in Nichols Hills. Social distancing will be observed.
It could go virtual if deemed necessary, the alliance says on its web page. Buy tickets at www.ocmsalliance.org/about.
Miller Mantel & Trees Tour? Maybe
The Miller Neighborhood Association took a huge blow last year and this year with the cancellation of the Miller in May home tour, which is its biggest annual fundraiser, and the Miller Mantels & Trees Tour in December 2020, said Mike Stuart, treasurer.
Expenses are down due to lack of community events and activities, he said, but the association’s operating budget, spent mostly on care and improvement of medians, is down 20% compared with two years ago.
“Miller has not taken on any improvements in the past two years. This is partially due to COVID restrictions and not encouraging any activities that might pull neighbors together,” Stuart said. “But it is also because we are conservatively spending the association’s cash assets, only maintaining the common grounds such as medians and flowerbeds.”
He added, “Sadly, COVID has also created disconnect in the neighborhood as well. Neighbors have not been as diligent in supporting the association through voluntary dues, donations, or even volunteering with activities such as median and flowerbed maintenance, picking up trash, etc.”
The Miller Mantels & Trees Tour could go on this December, Stuart said.
“It is not necessarily a large income-generating activity, but it will hopefully begin to pull our residents back together and allow neighbors to socialize. It also provides a perfect showcase to highlight Miller neighborhood.”
“It is not necessarily a large income-generating activity, but it will hopefully begin to pull our residents back together and allow neighbors to socialize.”
Mike Stuart Miller Mantels & Trees Tour Treasurer heritagehills.org/.
Quail Creek: Home tour? Garden tour? Why not both in 2022?
Quail Creek skipped its home tour in 2020 and traded it for a “more COVID-safe” garden tour this year, said Simon Shingleton, a real estate agent who helped organize the first home tour in 2016.
The nonprofit Quail Community Foundation’s ongoing project — updating the neighborhood’s 23 entrances — was set back a year with the canceling of the 2020 home tour.
“We are hoping to resume the home tour next year. But the garden tour was such a hit that we may try to do both in the future,” Shingleton said.