Begun in 1964, Christmas in Odessa is a self-guided walking tour of private homes and historic buildings decorated in lights, nativity scenes, reindeer and more.

Jeanne Hatton has been there from day one.

Since the first Christmas in Odessa, she played the organ for guests at Old St. Paul’s Church and watched people from all over the state come to the small community on the first Saturday of December to see homes and public buildings decorated for the holiday season. 

“It has been my favorite part,” Hatton said. “I am sad I can’t do it anymore.”

Although she can’t play, the tradition stays wonderful for her because of all the people who return year after year.

“It’s a wonderful time,” the Women’s Club of Odessa chairman said. “The people really love it."

This is the 55th year for Women’s Club of Odessa tradition. Begun in 1964, Christmas in Odessa is a self-guided walking tour of private homes and historic buildings decorated in lights, nativity scenes, reindeer and more.

Kirsten Ly, club president, said the tradition remains the same, but the houses change. Homeowners choose different decorations or themes to provide a new experience for the MOT area visitors who come every year.

What doesn’t change is why they do it. Born as a college scholarship fundraiser for Appoquinimink School District students, Christmas in Odessa has provided about 160 awards. Last year, they gave five $2,000 scholarships.

“In 55 years, we haven’t changed that much,” Ly said. “We’ve added Santa and Mrs. Claus, we’ve added food, but we really have stayed true to public and private homes opening up to raise money for scholarships.”

Plein air artist David Ohlerking will offer oil board portrait sessions for $50, benefiting the scholarship fund, in the back gardens of the circa-1894 Red Men Lodge, 307 Main St.

The Women’s Club also contributes to community projects such as preservation of Old St. Paul's Church — their clubhouse — Corbit-Calloway Library, Everett Theatre, Boy Scout troops and Appo schools, Ly said.

During the walking tour, they will have a Christmas Craft Shop in the Appoquinimink Training Center, 118 S. Sixth St., Odessa from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ​