Scioto County becoming Christmas destination


It’s been years in the making, but Portsmouth and the entire Scioto County region has slowly been becoming a Christmas destination filled with festive locations and events throughout the entire month of December.

It’s become impressive to cover the many stories, starting all the way back in November during the Portsmouth Area Jaycees Christmas Parade, which was larger this year than in recent years, and also opened Winterfest.

Most townships and municipalities in the county have tree lighting ceremonies, Santa events, and more.

Growing Lucasville Opportunities (GLO) is a prime example of the joy spread in townships, after a month of seasonal celebrations in big ways and many events around the community tree.

Kenny Boldman, of GLO, expressed great joy for the success Lucasville had this season, which he believes ties into the community tree they erect every year that stems from the tradition William McKinley began in the 1970s.

“We felt it went really well. We did have the first ever Journey Through Bethlehem night. It went over really well,” Boldman said. “We had a great turn out with four churches that sponsored and two more local, Lucasville churches showed up wanting to sponsor next year. So, there are plans in place to make it an even bigger and better event moving forward.”

GLO was responsible for not only events, but also many of the decorative elements in the area.

“Between the events and the lights, the big tree, the decorations on the poles and fabulous window art, we had a pretty wonderful season in Lucasville,” Boldman said.

The Scioto County Commissioners moved their annual tree lighting to the evening and welcomed Santa and the Grinch, as well as many local musical performers.

“I think the courthouse lighting is important, because it is always a time of joy and expectation. The courthouse tree has been lit for many, many years and it has always been a time of coming together and kicking off the season for the whole county,” Commissioner Bryan Davis said. “I think Christmas gives us a chance to reflect on what is important in all our lives. Of course, with Christmas, it is about the birth of a savior, and I think it is important for us to be able to reflect on the blessings we’ve received and the goodness that we can shed on each other this holiday season.”

Winterfest, which is still underway, hosted an entirely new Home Alone theme, provided various shopping opportunities, held a hockey school, organized a tree lighting, and much more over 45 days of ice skating and memory making.

“I think Winterfest as a whole brings out that huge nostalgia of Christmas spirit. You have all the lights, decorations, skating and carriage rides, the families coming down on the weekend with kids and creating lasting memories,” Friends of Portsmouth’s Bryan Smith said. “That’s what it really is, building lasting memories.”

The Portsmouth Public Library system had dozens of events across its many locations.

Candyland Children’s Museum had a month of seasonal events.

“Seasonal events have been such a joyful experience at the museum!” Candyland’s Megan Baum exclaimed. “Our museum educator, Rhonda, has done such an incredible job crafting unique learning experiences featuring classic holiday films, colors, sights, and sounds. Children and their parents have left each class with big smiles, festive creations, and more knowledge in their head!”

The Portsmouth Area Ladies hosted the locally famous Tour of Churches.

“The tour of churches is an event that always puts me in the Christmas spirit. I started going with my husband’s family 19 years ago, and it has been a Christmas tradition for us ever since,” Portsmouth Area Ladies member Therese Egbert said of the event.

The 1810 House hosted its two weekends of Open Houses before closing the season.

Main Street Portsmouth decorated Tracy Park, flowerpots all over downtown, various hot spots and more. They also planned popular events, The Cookie Crawl and The Tour of Lofts and Other Places.

There were two different ballet and dance performances of the Nutcracker, which highlighted over 300 dancers total, between Cirque d’Art and Portsmouth Youth Ballet.

The Portsmouth Little Theatre produced a locally written Christmas production called Velveteen that held seven performances and entertained nearly 1,000 people.

A window decorating contest organized for downtown Portsmouth had businesses adorning storefronts to a whole new level of excellence.

New Boston hit major milestones with the continuation of Breakfast with Santa and the new formation of the Christmas in the Park event. They also continued investing in their massive village-wide light display.

The Salvation Army continued bell ringing and the Angel Tree program.

Businesses all over the county held Christmas open houses.

People shopped locally on Small Business Saturday.

Dr. Spinatti continued the Annual Christmas gift to Portsmouth, where he honored two more locals, Lisa Carver and Larry Mullins, with volunteer awards, and put on a show featuring dozens of musical talents.

The Shawnee State Lodge welcomed the area garden clubs for the 32nd year to decorate 45 immaculate trees, which were showcased the entire season, not only during a very busy Christmas open house.

The Lodge’s Terry Stevens said that the Lodge crew and the garden clubs have worked well together for 32 years.

“It’s great. They’re easy to work with and open to suggestions,” Stevens explained. “They’re talented and they work very hard. They go nonstop, once they come in to decorate.”

Stevens has been with the Lodge for nearly 20 years and sees a massive benefit with having it available.

“It brings a lot of people into the area that otherwise may not. People may not realize how many people visit the area for the lodge and state park,” Stevens said. “A lot of our traffic comes from the Cincinnati and Columbus areas, especially in the summer and holiday seasons.”

Stevens says that, while they have a restaurant and amenities onsite, the group always shares the love with the surrounding area.

“We always give recommendations on restaurants and shops and where to visit once they’ve hit the town. Even though we have a restaurant here, we will suggest other notable places,” Stevens said. “I just think that, all together, with the Lodge, Winterfest, the Christmas Caves, and everything else this town has to offer come the holiday season, that the area is just a great place to visit.”

PHS opened curtain on Miracle on 42nd Street.

Dr. Stanley Workman and Rev Alison Bauer held the Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols for the 30th year.

The Christmas Cave welcomed 30,364 guests and expanded to include even more Christmas light coverage.

It is impossible to attend every celebration the county has for the season, due to conflicting dates in a bloated calendar of celebration, but there were plenty of options for people who visited the area for one reason or another.

“Scioto County is Ohio’s Christmas County,” County Commissioner Bryan Davis said. “In recent years, an effort has been made by many citizens and groups to draw more and more people to our area at Christmas time and it’s working. Tens of thousands are finding their way to our county to see and enjoy the attractions, special events and occasions, parades and more! What I like about it is the strong emphasis on peace, love and joy that so many need in our world today.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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