Talk of the Town - Deck the halls December 11 2002

Two-story Victorian in Grant Park

The stately
Queen Anne Victorian home in Grant Park has come a long way in a short time. When Caroline and Wayne Fleischer bought the place and began renovating, people in the neighborhood still called it the "Sanford and Son" house because of the collection of refuse piled up in and around it. When the Fleischers began work, there was still cardboard for windows and only one working bathroom.

Two years later, the home is one of the featured locations on the 22nd annual Grant Park Candlelight Tour of Homes Dec. 14-15. Just back from Thanksgiving vacation, Caroline is finishing up all the last-minute decorations, planning and primping while juggling the needs of her 4-month-old daughter, Lauren. (For more information on the tour, visit www.gpna.org.)

Creative Loafing: So you're doing all this for the tour of homes and you have a new baby?

Fleischer: People think I'm crazy. It's kind of a zoo around here right now, but I've been on the committee with the tour for two years already, so I know how it works. But there's still a lot to do.

Like the tree?

Yeah. We don't even have our tree yet; other people have theirs all decorated. We're going to get it tonight.

Is it going to be some kind of designer tree?

No, it's going to be real. This is who we are. Gotta dig out all those family ornaments — you know, the ones made from toilet-paper rolls and stuff. Wayne said it was his year to decorate the tree. We switch every year, but I vetoed that. Not this year — I have to do the tree because of the tour.

White lights or colored lights?

I'm a white-light person. We'll also have a baby tree in Lauren's nursery. Maybe we'll have pink lights on that one. Definitely white lights — and also white lights on the house, around the archway outside. I have all these wonderful intentions, but it's a little bit more of a challenge. Things that used to take me five minutes now take me an hour with the baby. But it's a nice way to get into the spirit.

That magical feeling?

Yeah. There are carolers, and everyone treats it like a progressive party. There will be food and hayrides taking people in between the houses.

Are you worried it won't be ready?

It'll be OK — and you have to remember, this tour is by candlelight. That's the big selling point when talking people into doing it. [Your house] doesn't have to be perfect — everything looks great by candlelight. I've been collecting candles for a while, and I bought a whole lot more at an outlet store on the way back from Tallahassee during Thanksgiving.

What's your biggest fear?

I have this weird phobia. I keep thinking someone's going to bump into a candle and it's going to fall or catch a sleeve on fire. I mean, this place is gonna be loaded with candles. But no one will catch on fire — I hope.