As they do every year on July 4, East Dallas residents lined the sidewalks and grassy lawns of Lakewood for the neighborhood’s annual Independence Day parade. Spangled floats, a Pepto Bismol-pink stretch Hummer limo, and classic cars rumbled along Lakewood Boulevard and Lakeshore Drive as onlookers clapped and waved.
Lakewood Early Childhood PTA vice president Stephanie Bowen Wright marched next a black truck hauling a trailer trimmed in red-and-white striped banners and star balloons. The float had a white children’s playhouse decked with patriotic bunting and window planters of red, white, and blue flowers. From the truck’s bed and the float, kids garbed in festive checked dresses and shirts waved hands and flags. On the back of the float hung a large banner that read, in all caps, “THE LAKEWOOD HOME TOUR IS BACK!”
As the float drove past, people cheered, Wright says. Every year, LECPTA announces the first house of its annual fall home tour during the Fourth of July parade. This year was extra-special, says Wright, because after two years of pandemic pivoting, the Lakewood Home Tour will again welcome human beings inside a selection of homes this November.
“From parade-goers young and old, it was really exciting to see that people were enthused about it,” she says.
For almost half a century, Lakewood residents have opened their abodes to the public one weekend in November. Volunteers lead around 2,000 visitors through the homes—they’re expecting 2,500 this year—giving snippets “as you walk through each room of the house.” If the house has been recently remodeled, they’ll show before and after photos.
If there are any historical or architecturally significant features, they’ll explain those too. On Saturday night, lights are dimmed and wine bottles are uncorked during the more intimate Candlelight Tour, where guests can talk with the homeowners and sponsors themselves.
“I love the energy that the weekend brings,” says Wright, who’s shown her house on the tour, been a house captain, and is this year’s event chair. But, thanks to COVID-19, the past two years have been “tricky.”
Throughout 2020, LECPTA held out hope that they could put on the house tour festival, Wright says. But at the last minute, they decided to play it safe with a drive-by tour. Visitors picked up guidebooks containing information and photos of each house, then drove around the neighborhood and looked at the exteriors.
Everyone was understanding “that it was a weird year,” Wright says, but the home tour organizers wanted to bring it back in person the next year. However, in 2021, the delta variant kept Lakewood’s doors shut. Instead, they hosted “activations” on the front lawns of the selected homes. Each house had a theme, snacks, and activities.
At one house, kids could talk to Santa, decorate cookies, and make ornaments. At another fiesta-themed house, there were tacos, margaritas, and a maraca-making station. There was even a ringmaster on stilts at the Circus house. They did host the Candlelight Tour—but only in backyards.
This year, though, “you can walk through the home and actually experience the home tour as it as it always traditionally has been,” Wright says. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises all of us to wear masks when indoors because of yet another variant, the omicron BA.5. You can read about that here.)
The 46th-annual Lakewood Home Tour, which raises money for local schools in the Woodrow Wilson High School feeder pattern, will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on November 12 through 14. There will be six homes on the tour in Lakewood proper. LECPTA has announced the first home—6848 Velasco Ave.—but the rest will be revealed in late September, Wright says. She teased a Spanish modern, an industrial modern, and a 1930s-era home that’s been completely remodeled.
Wright says they try to include a range of homes on the tour each year. “We do aim to have a very good mix so that there’s a little bit of something for everybody,” she says.
If parents want a chance to explore the homes without their kids in tow, Northridge Presbyterian Church will offer babysitting that weekend, which is a first for the tour. “Now we’ll have this opportunity for people to go drop their kids off,” Wright says. “I think that’s a great addition, something we desperately needed.”
Daytime tour tickets cost $25 and will give you access to the homes Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for the Candlelight Tour (7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday) are $35 and include daytime access. Upgrade to VIP Candlelight Tour and get a seat on a bus from house-to-house (daytime visitors will have to drive to each location).
Tickets are on sale now. Learn more here.