Like many other events in 2020, the Parade of Homes is going virtual thanks to COVID-19.
While fans of the annual showcase of new and remodeled homes may miss walking through the entries in person, they can still tour room by room on their computer or smartphone screen.
That may be a disappointment to some, but Melanie Capanelli, director of programs and communications for the Building Industry Association of Lancaster County, sees at least one bright spot in the new format.
“If people didn’t have the opportunity to see all the homes in the past, this gives them the opportunity,” Capanelli says. “They can do it at 3 o’clock in the afternoon or 3 o’clock in the morning.”
The re-imagined Parade of Homes, postponed from this summer, kicks off Oct. 24 with the launch of a revamped website, lancasterparadeofhomes.com, featuring 3D tours of each entry.
So while visitors in previous years were limited to several hours a day over a nine-day period to tour the homes, they can now explore each entry as many times as they want in the comfort of their own homes.
This year’s Parade of Homes will feature 18 homes (17 in Lancaster and Lebanon counties and one in York) reflecting the latest design trends, creative floor plans and decorating ideas. The largest entry, with an unpublished sale price, is a two-family, seven-bedroom home by Copenhaver Builders in Lebanon.
This year’s list of entries is significantly shorter than 2019, when 29 homes were on the tour. Although some of that is due to COVID-19, a robust real estate market is also to blame, Capanelli says. Some homes that would have appeared on the original June tour have now been sold, she says.
“I was happy with 18, to be honest,” she says. “Once I started getting the word out there about what we were doing there was a lot of enthusiasm about it.”
Two of this year’s entries are whole-house remodels by Garman Builders and EGStoltzfus Homes. Once an exclusively new-home event, the Parade welcomed its first remodeled home to the tour in 2018, its 28th year.
This year’s Parade has one more first up its sleeve: a single-room remodel, this one an updated bathroom by Re-Bath.
“We’re really hoping to get some more remodeling projects in. It seems like that’s the way the industry is going,” Capanelli says. “I think people are intrigued by those before and afters. I think people get a lot of ideas from new home construction, too.”
The Parade of Homes is typically a rite of summer. When the BIA decided to postpone the late-June event due to COVID-19 there was still talk of doing an in-person version in the fall, Capanelli says. Safety concerns, in particular with the occupied remodeled homes, swayed organizers to go virtual, she says.
“It just made sense to keep up with the safety and the standards our state is in,” she says.
Using Matterport 3D technology, the BIA created the virtual tours of each entry.
“The public can explore the homes and the projects utilizing the 3D technology. They can click right on it and it’s like you’re in the home touring it. It’s really fascinating how accurate they are and how in person they are,” Capanelli says. “We didn’t want to just use pictures. The 3D technology is definitely the way to go. Realtors are using it, we felt like we should jump on board, too.”
The exterior portion of the 3D tour even allows viewers to see a bit of the surrounding neighborhood.
In addition to the individual 3D tours, the website also includes a list of design highlights for each home, along with the price and contact information for the builder or remodeler. The site will include a map, but organizers have omitted directions to each home to discourage too many visitors from driving by, Capanelli says.
As in previous years, entries will be classified in divisions based on price and type of home, such as single-family and townhome/duplex. Judges will award best-of-show honors in each division, along with additional awards in categories such as interior and exterior design and landscaping. The highest honor, the Fulton Award, will go to the best overall single-family home and townhome.
Judges following social distancing and other safety guidelines completed their judging of the Parade entries in mid-September. While the BIA typically announces winners at a gala event for those in the industry the evening before the tour’s opening day, that too will change this year. The BIA plans to announce the winners to the public via a Facebook Live event at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23. Those interested in watching should like the BIA’s Facebook page at business.facebook.com/BIAofLancasterCounty. They will be notified when the event begins.
One award, however, will have to wait. In yet another first, the public will get to vote for a people’s-choice winner. Cast your ballot at bit.ly/ParadePeoples
ChoiceAward. Voting will end Nov. 20, Capanelli says. Unlike past Parade of Homes tours, the virtual version currently has no end date.
While COVID-19 has been challenging for the Parade and the attention it brings to local builders, Capanelli says it gave the BIA the impetus to revamp the event’s online component, something that will hopefully reap benefits long after COVID-19 is gone.
“We certainly love the in-person Parade, but I think this is allowing us to be a little bit of a hybrid for the future,” she says. “We’ll be tying the two together.”
The BIA will still publish a guidebook this year. To request a copy, contact the BIA at 717-569-2674 or email@example.com.