Holiday Magic: Regional festivities offer fun for families

by Tom Reed
WMV Web News Cleveland
Story filed December 13, 2002

If youíre like most of us, you may get so busy with Christmas shopping and other seasonal routines that you donít take time to smell the roses, or rather the poinsettias.

This year, make time in your schedule for a trip to one or more of the regional attractions within a short drive of Cleveland. Youíll find it rewarding.

The Winter Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, is billed as the nationís largest light show. Over a million visitors a year drive through the six mile course to see the colorful displays. Five new displays this year feature the Peanuts comic strip characters created by the late Charles Schulz. These are in addition to the 50 favorites from past years.

The Festival of Lights continues through January 5, from dusk to 11 p.m. A $7 per car donation is requested, and is valid for the entire season. Oglebay is about a three hour drive from Cleveland.

Wheeling has another attraction thatís a natural for a family holiday visit. The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum is housed in a 1906 schoolhouse at 144 Kruger Street. Trains made by Lionel, American Flyer, and Marx are a big attraction for kids and for adults alike, and thereís an operating train layout. Continuing the railroad theme, visitors can tour a restored Baltimore and Ohio caboose. The museum also has a great collection of dolls and many other toys. A temporary exhibit called "Letís Fly Away! Air Travel Through Toys!" runs through January. Until the end of December, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Christmas Day). In January, itís open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only.

The Longaberger Homestead in Frazeysburg, Ohio, offers some special events for the holidays, plus a chance to do some last minute shopping. The Homestead, adjacent to the companyís huge basket-making plant, is an assortment of gift shops, restaurants, and the like. Special Yule activities include the holiday light parade, December 13-15, and 20-22. The parade begins at 6 p.m. during those dates, featuring festive costume characters, floats, and of course Santa and his reindeer. The Homestead offers special crafts projects for children (making baskets, mittens, decorations, etc.), and holiday music for all ages. Frazeysburg is in central Ohio, about 40 miles east of Columbus. For more information on activities, hours of operation, and driving directions, visit their Web site.

A little closer to home, the Stan Hywet Hall in Akron is decked out for Christmas. In fact they call it "Deck the Hall! Holiday Exhibition". This is the Tudor Revival mansion built by F. A. Seiberling, co-founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. For this yearís holiday season, the mansion is decorated as it was for the 1923 Christmas wedding of the Seiberlingís daughter, Irene. A special treat this year is some never-before-seen footage of the wedding. This was long before the average bride thought about filming, or videotaping, her wedding. But then the average bride didnít live in a 65-room mansion.

From December 15 through January 4, 2003, the grounds will be ablaze with 300,000 outdoor lights. You have three options: the daytime decorated mansion tour, the evening mansion and lighted grounds tour, and the evening lighted grounds only. Evening hours are 6:30 to 9 p.m. The hall is at 714 N. Portage Path.

All of these attractions are places you might like to visit at any time during the year. But thereís a special magic about seeing them in all their holiday glory.


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Copyright 2002 Tom Reed