December 2015 Archives

Christmas Train Rides in Ohio


Are you looking to ride The Polar Express or Santa Trains? Do you want to take a trip to the North Pole? Act fast, they book quickly. Here are several great ideas to enjoy your holiday season in across Ohio.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Santa Claus Express and Polar Express in Penninsula, Ohio:   For availability, reservations and rates, call 800-468-4070.  The trip is full of fun as kids try to spot reindeer in the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley while they wait for Santa to stop by and visit. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad offers the Polar Express as well. However, getting tickets for this wonderful trip is very difficult even when planning months in advance. It is done through a mail-in lottery. Tickets are sometimes found through area newspapers as well. Passengers are encouraged to wear pajamas. Cookies and hot-coco are served.

Dennison Railroad Museum‘s Polar Express in Dennison, Ohio:
For availability, reservations and rates, call 740-922-6776.
This newly restored railroad station encourages parents to take your family on a journey of a lifetime. Just like The Polar Express book and movie, passengers are seen riding the rails in their pajamas sipping hot chocolate and snacking on cookies. As the storyline unfolds, so do the events aboard this train. Once at the North Pole, Santa hops aboard to meet the children and hand out presents.

Hocking Valley Scenic Railway Santa Trains in Nelsonville, Ohio: For tickets and information, call 740-249-1452. As the train departs, Santa begins his journey through the train of heated coaches and visits with each child, hearing their special requests before the Big Day. Each child also gets to enjoy a candy treat after Santa’s visit. Trains operate each Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, and a couple of evening departure. The ride lasts approximately two hours. Reserve ahead of time.

LM&M Railroad‘s North Pole Express in Lebanon, Ohio:
For availability, reservations and rates, call 513-933-8022
Take a ride on a vintage train to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus! Children will receive a small gift from Santa. Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies and entertainment by Santa’s elves. Bring kids, grandparents or a friend but don’t forget your camera because this event is filled with fun.

Enjoy a Peaceful Holiday Season


Discover how peaceful and enjoyable the holidays can be without all the hustle and bustle this December in Coshocton and Historic Roscoe Village. Find out what Christmas was like in the 1800s, enjoy a drive-it-yourself live nativity, experience an old-fashioned candlelighting ceremony, rejoice in a choir concert featuring over 200 musicians, and appreciate holiday shopping the way it was meant to be.

Holiday shopping in Coshocton and Roscoe Village is a joyful experience with unique shops, unusual gifts, no hectic traffic, and free parking. Find gifts for everyone on the list such as Ohio-made items at Ohio State of Mind; old-fashioned candy at Roscoe Village Sweets & Treats; hand-made wares at the Roscoe Village Visitors Center; unique crafts and gifts at The Gift Depot, Cottage Gate, and Caldersburgh Trading Company; locally-made US Flags at the Annin Flagmakers Showroom; outdoor and hunting supplies at Woodbury Outfitters; unique jewelry at the House of GA. Fisher Jewelers and at Dean’s Jewelry; and award-winning cheeses at Pearl Valley Cheese.

Also find fine guitars and dulcimers at Wildwood Music; affordable antiques at The Coshocton Antique Mall and at C & M Collectibles; locally-crafted goods at Commonwealth Americana; fascinating gifts at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum Gift Shop; locally-made wines; Vera Bradley items and wine making supplies at Canal Cargo; homemade fudge at the Roscoe General Store; gourmet foods and unusual gifts at Medbery Marketplace and Unusual Junction; hand-made leather items at River Ridge Leather; and many more unique options to choose from throughout the community.

There are a number of wineries in the Coshocton area as well. In fact, within 43 miles of Coshocton, there are 16 wineries – a few of which have either a guest house, lodge or bed & breakfast on site including at Rainbow Hills Winery and Heritage Vineyard Winery, perfect for that winter getaway.

There are also many festivals and events coming up this season including the Coshocton Community Choir ‘Gifts of Love’ Christmas Festival Concert on December 6; the Christmas Candlelightings in Historic Roscoe Village on December 5, 12 & 19; the drive-through Live Nativity experience on December 11, 12 & 13 at the Coshocton Christian Tabernacle; and more.

A live theater production of Uh-oh Here Comes Christmas also takes place at the Triple Locks Theater the first three weekends of December. And the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, home of the famous Newark Holy Stones, has an impressive exhibit of Chinese artwork on display through January 3.

Looking ahead into 2016, enjoy the Sweetheart Big Band Dance and the Chocolate Extravaganza on February 13 ~ a perfect romantic getaway weekend. Also that weekend is the Cardinal Chorale Winter Pops Concert on February 14. On February 20, enjoy the Ice Carving and Chili Cook Off event.

Several overnight getaway packages are available at Coshocton Village Inn & Suites this season including the Old-fashioned Christmas in Historic Roscoe Village package and the Raven’s Glenn Wine Tasting Package.

Leave the hectic pace of the modern world behind and get away to Historic Roscoe Village and Coshocton, Ohio ~ small-town friendliness, a slower pace, relaxation, and, most importantly, true holiday spirit. For additional information, call for a free visitor packet at 800-338-4724 or go to and then visit Coshocton in person.

By Jan Myers

Lights Before Christmas


It’s the 30th anniversary of Toledo Zoo’s Lights Before Christmas presented by KeyBank. This annual celebration has become “THE” holiday tradition in Toledo and northwest Ohio. The “Big Tree,” is an 85-foot Norway spruce decorated with more than 35,000 energy-saving LED bulbs illuminating the night sky.

Lights Before Christmas display features over one million lights and more than 200 illuminated animal images. Other traditions continuing at Lights this year include the Ice Slide with Winter Village, ice carvings, live animal encounters and, of course, Santa. New this year is the Talking Tree that leads a short holiday sing-along and more cold weather animals than ever before. It would not be Lights without the Zoo’s famous hot chocolate, homemade fudge and baked goods!

Lights Before Christmas will run until January 3, 2016. The display will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve night, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Hours of operation for Lights Before Christmas are 3-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Zoo will close one hour after last admission to allow guests to finish their visit.

Toledo Zoo members receive free and unlimited Monday-Thursday Lights Before Christmas visits plus one free weekend visit. Visitors can save $1 per ticket by ordering online at

Come enjoy all the season has to offer at the 30th anniversary of Lights Before Christmas presented by KeyBank at your Toledo Zoo!

The Zoo is normally open daily 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and is located on the Anthony Wayne Trail (US 25), four miles south of downtown Toledo. Hours of operation for Lights Before Christmas, presented by KeyBank are 3-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, please visit or call 419-385-4040. Lucas County residents are admitted free of charge on non-holiday Mondays from 10 a.m. – noon. Valid ID showing proof of residency is required.

On Stage in Marietta


With its January grand opening weekend nearly sold-out, Peoples Bank Theatre, in downtown Marietta, is announcing its inaugural series of concerts in the newly-restored historic hall.

Originally a vaudeville house dating back over 100 years, and previously called the Hippodrome Theatre, downtown Marietta reopens this renovated piece of history.

The Winter-Spring 2016 Spotlight Series features 10 performances, encompassing a mix of music, comedy and dance. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on December 1, 2015.

The Spotlight Series kicks off with the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Complete History of Comedy on January 23, 2016 at 8 p.m.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company has created ten world-renowned stage shows, two television specials, and numerous radio pieces, all of which have been performed, seen, and heard the world over. The company’s itinerary has included stops off-Broadway, at the White House, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London’s West End, Seattle Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, and Montreal’s famed Just For Laughs Festival.

From the high-brow to the low, The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) covers comedy through the ages, from Aristophanes and Shakespeare and Moliere (Is Moliere funny? Why not?) to Vaudeville and Charlie Chaplin to The Daily Show and Anthony Weiner.

On February 4, the nationally touring production of Saturday Night Fever takes center stage at 8 p.m. The original production in London was nominated for Best New Musical and then enjoyed a run of more than 500 performances when it was later staged on Broadway.

This brand new production of Saturday Night Fever is packed with legendary hits from the Bee Gees including the classics Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, Jive Talking, You Should Be Dancing and How Deep is Your Love?

Standup comedian and NPR personality Paula Poundstone steps up to the microphone on February 13 at 8 p.m. Poundstone appears as regular panelist on NPR’s number-one show, the weekly news quiz show, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. This year she was also part of the talented cast in Pixar’s critically acclaimed movie, INSIDE OUT, and she tours regularly, performing standup comedy across the country.

On March 12 at 8 p.m. Grammy Award winning singer Kathy Mattea and her longtime collaborator, guitarist Bill Cooley meet as old friends and welcome the audience in the Acoustic Living Room to share songs and stories near and dear to their hearts — including Kathy’s beloved classics such as “18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Where’ve You Been?,” and many other hits, plus a handful of more eclectic and often requested tunes from her extensive catalogue, as well as a sprinkling of brand new material, all reinterpreted for the duo format.

The Johnny Clegg Band follows with a high-energy world music concert on March 25 at 8 p.m. Johnny Clegg is one of South Africa’s most celebrated sons. He is a singer, a songwriter, a dancer, anthropologist and a musical activist whose infectious crossover music, a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms, has exploded onto the international scene and broken through all the barriers in his own country. In France, where he enjoys a massive following, he is fondly called Le Zulu Blanc – the white Zulu.

On March 26 at 8 p.m. Rhythm in the Night, the Irish Dance Spectacular, reimagines traditional Irish dance to take the audience on an exciting journey of a fallen hero and his rise to redemption for an unforgettable experience the entire family will enjoy.

A complete schedule and tickets for Spotlight Series performances are online at or by calling 740-371-5152.

Thirteenth Amendment Exhibit

Slave Pen at Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will exhibit a rare, handwritten copy of the Thirteenth Amendment—the federal law, passed on January 31, 1865, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude except for punishment of a crime—in January 2016.

The announcement comes as the community continues to engage with our nation’s freedom journey through the current exhibition of the Emancipation Proclamation, on loan from David Rubenstein, and as citizens across the nation exercise their right to vote.

The Thirteenth Amendment is also a loan from David Rubenstein, managing director of The Carlyle Group. Mr. Rubenstein, who was recently profiled for his “patriotic philanthropy” on television program 60 Minutes, personally selected the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center as the temporary home for two rare, historical freedom documents from his collection.

“David’s decision to share both the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment with us is reflective of the value and importance of our institution,” says Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, “one that will continue to enable us to engage and educate the public through compelling historical documents and artifacts, in addition to our permanent exhibitions. It’s a rare occurrence to see these two documents exhibited side-by-side.”

When the Civil War began in 1861, President Lincoln sought to preserve the Union rather than end the system of enslavement. He knew that neither the Union nor the Border States would support abolition as a final outcome, however, by mid-1862, the President was convinced that abolition was the correct military and moral strategy. To solve this dilemma, in early 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was issued but it only freed enslaved persons in states that had already seceded from the Union. At the time, it was thought of as an effective war measure that would cripple the Confederacy, which had used enslaved laborers to support the Confederate Army. However, the Emancipation Proclamation also set the stage for conversations on the future of human bondage in the United States and would dramatically alter the lives of African Americans once the Civil War ended – with the passing and ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. While the struggle for freedom continues to this day, these documents became a cornerstone in the fight for freedom and equality in our nation.

“The arrival of the Thirteenth Amendment at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is powerful in the telling the America’s journey to freedom,” says Dr. Newsome. “From the arrival of the first slave ships to the Underground Railroad to the ratification Thirteenth Amendment, our nation’s story is one that is not easy to tell but must be told. It’s ever important that we continue to educate the public about this time, as the effects of institutionalized slavery and racism continue to plague us in modern forms—inequality, injustice, generational poverty and global lack of access to healthcare—proving the inherent need for current and future generations to learn important lessons from our relatively recent past.”

The Thirteenth Amendment will be on exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center beginning January 2016 through June 2016. To learn more visit

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit the permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Millions of people have utilized educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom.

Castle Noel is a Standout


Castle Noel: How can America’s largest year-round indoor Christmas entertainment attraction not be a Standout in Ohio! Mark Klaus (yes, Klaus) and his wife, Dana, created a wonderland out of an old church in scenic downtown Medina, Ohio. In it, you’ll find yourself at the crossroads where Hollywood meets Christmas. Where else can you slide down Santa Clause Mountain which is a replica of the two-story slide from the movie, A Christmas Story. Heck, even Uncle Eddy’s infamous RV from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is parked on site. In addition, it features authentic props from Hollywood Christmas movies, including Elf, Grinch, Christmas Vacation, and many other holiday classics. Other delights are seeing Toy Land which allows people to relive childhood by revisiting favorite toys from Christmas’ past. Speaking of Christmas’ past, there’s $2 million worth of stunning Christmas displays that used to grace famous New York City storefronts.  All this and much more wait your Xmas celebration any time of year. Click here for more information.

This award recognizes Ohio’s standouts in tourism. More details about the award and all award recipients are at