Chinoe Christmas lights return; house to open for public tours

bfortune@herald-leader.comNovember 30, 2012 

  • If You Go

    White House Christmas Tour of Ron and Linda Turner's house. Tours will include a take-home picture with Santa, hot chocolate and cookies. Do some early Christmas shopping at a vendors tent.

    Where: 1008 Chinoe Road.

    When: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tours begin at 6 p.m, 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m.,7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Each tour takes 30 minutes.

    Tickets: $20 for adults; $35 for couples; $5 for children 12 and younger. Tickets will be sold for specific times. Tickets can be purchased online at thefostercarecouncil.org or by calling 859 368-9611. No tickets will be sold at the door.

    Parking: Park on the street. Two off-duty Lexington police officers will be on Chinoe with cruiser lights flashing to slow traffic and help people cross the street.

Ron and Linda Turner's large white house on Chinoe Road is a destination for countless families to drive by each Christmas season to see the lavish light display.

The Turners have never opened their house to the public, so the inside of the house had been left to people's imagination — until now.

Next week, the house at 1008 Chinoe Road will be open three nights — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — as a fund-raiser for the Foster Care Council of Lexington.

The inside is every bit as spectacular as the outside.

Every tree, table, mantel and staircase is decorated over-the-top.

Each room has a Christmas tree with a different theme. In the green room off the kitchen is the white snowman tree — dozens of snowman ornaments — topped with the bust of a life-size Santa Claus, arms stretched out like he's hugging the branches.

The wrapping room, where Linda Turner keeps paper and ribbon for gifts, has a lollipop tree studded with real lollipops, plus balloons attached to sticks and covered in cellophane to resemble giant lollipops. Sitting on the mantel is a three-foot tall, pink and white candy cane house.

A purple tree trimmed with silver reindeer is in the purple and white bedroom suite where the Turners' seven granddaughters stay when they come visit.

In the dining room, there's a tree at both ends of the sideboard, flanking a 3-foot tall gold and white Santa Claus. A 5-foot gold angel blowing her horn is reclining in the center of the dining table

Linda Turner decorates every year, but her niece, Cassie Slone, president and executive director of the Foster Care Council of Lexington, asked if the house could be opened as a fundraiser.

Turner said she knew if the house was going to be used to raise money for charity, that called for pulling out all the stops. "I'm doing 10 times more than I have ever done," she said. The Turners built their house 20 years ago, attracted to the lot that backed up to a small lake.

Six months ago the kitchen was redone and a lap pool added in the back yard.

"Now we have no land," Linda Turner said. "It's the house, the pool, the lake. I tell people if they want to come over here, they have to come by boat."

Tickets for the tour must be purchased in advance. They are for specific times. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Six tours will be conducted through the house each evening.

Tour-goers are asked to park on the street. Two off-duty Lexington police officers have been hired by the Foster Care Council to park their cruisers, with lights flashing, a short distance in both directions from the Turner house to slow traffic and make it safer for people to cross the street, Slone said.

Neighbors said that when the Turners' Christmas lights go on, traffic becomes inconvenient and visitors park in their driveways. But nobody spoke adamantly against the Turners' display.

David Wilcoxson, the Turners' next-door neighbor, said on nights when the house is open for tour, "Traffic will probably be worse. But in this day and age, it's good to see somebody smile and be happy. And if it's to raise money for children, I don't have a problem with it."

Hot chocolate and cookies will be served; Santa will be available for photos. In a tent out back will be 15 vendors including Mary Kay skin care products, Pampered Chef kitchen items and Tastefully Simple.

Proceeds will fund a party the Turners are giving for 75 foster care children on the evening of Dec. 9. The party includes dinner, a visit from Santa and a personal gift from each youngster's Christmas wish list.

The Foster Care Council raises money for tutoring, clothing, summer camp fees and enrichment activities for at-risk foster children that state funding can't provide, Stone said.

With a deadline of Dec. 6 to have the house ready, Turner started decorating the first of November and has worked just about every day putting up trees, making bows, hanging ornaments and dashing out to shop for additional items.

Her preferred place for buying large and unusual decorations is Corman's on Floyd Drive. "I've bought from those guys for years," she said.

The exterior of the house is the purview of Ron Turner, founder of Amteck, an international electrical contracting firm. Turner's brother-in-law Louis Mullins is in charge of putting up and taking down the decorations, which are stored off-season in a 50-foot trailer.

A crew of six worked two and a half weeks putting up 40,000 small lights, twelve 500-watt quartz fixtures, twenty 150-watt flood lights, plus the reindeer, signs and Santa Claus.

The display is normally lit from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week, from Thanksgiving until January 1.

For those five weeks, the bounce in Turner's electric bill is about $250. Not bad, he said, considering "the joy it brings to people's hearts this time of year."

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010

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