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Light It Up!

By Ed Parsons - Editor | Dec 16, 2020

I have always enjoyed decorating for Christmas. One of the great thrills of the Holy season is watching the transformation of local communities from plain old street and porch lights to the hanging of lights on electric poles and the addition of yard decorations and house brightenings. As a youngster growing up on the West side of Cleveland, it became a tradition at my Grandmother’s house on West 127th, to hang a lighted wreath on the front door. That along with the fresh cut Christmas tree covered in lights, ornaments and thousands of artificial icicles was the beginning of the Christmas season.

It all started the week after Thanksgiving and carried over until the day after New Years. Man what a five to six week trip it was! You could count on at least one good snowfall to brighten things up and put a touch of magic in the air. A white Christmas was almost a certainty in the lakefront city, we were only about a mile from downtown, but it was still within walking distance or worth the 10 cent bus ride to get a good look at the storefronts and lights that adorned the largest building in Ohio, the Terminal Tower. It was truly magical as hundreds of people crowded the downtown area and filled the department stores to purchase gifts.

Going downtown also meant standing in line at the Westside market for fresh meat, and the other necessaries sold at Cleveland’s busiest and largest fresh food outlet. Another seasonal treat was the lakefront light displays. All along the shoreline the city was decorated with the finest of the time. It was a sight to see, snowmen, Santa’s, sleighs, reindeer, nativity’s, and lit up Christmas trees cast a glare on lake Erie which was picture perfect.

Those precious memories will forever linger in my mind, however, times change, but the Holiday season never will. The magic of Christmas is in full force.

Traveling to Oglebay park in Wheeling for the state’s largest light display is a must, but if it’s not on your agenda, try traveling through the local communities, you’ll be sure to be satisfied.. Each community has its own flare, and within a 25-30 mile radius one can see some amazing sights.

Some people have spared no expense in competing for the best in their neighborhoods. While taking in the sights the other evening, I ventured over to Sardis, Ohio, to get a close up view of what looked from the West Virginia side to be quite extravagant.

Upon arriving I knew I had discovered a gem of a small town that seemed to send me back in time.

The main light poles leading through town had been adorned with beautiful snowflakes, and as you turned down the side streets those poles were also decorated. If their is a hallmark card more beautiful then the entire town lit up, I would like to see it. The people of Sardis went over and beyond to put the joy of the season on display. Every street is characterized through the homes of the people. It is worth a second view, which I shall venture to examine at a later date not yet set. The one disappointment was the town gazebo, although finely decorated it was unlit during the night I was there Hopefully it will be, on my next trip.

As beautiful as it was, it didn’t take away from the other communities I visited, New Martinsville’s downtown area is well lit up with many homes participating in the spirit. Other sections of the community are worth your time to view. Bruce Park in the middle of town is aglow with color, and a ride down Maple Avenue will take you back to yesteryear. Paden City who always goes all out, has some of the finest lights in the entire area. Rt. 2 is lit up from one end of town to the other.

Venture off the main road and you will see what I’m talking about. Sistersville as always is on display with the city park well lit up, along with some great family decorations throughout the town. Main Street business windows are vying for the top prize given each year to the best display.

Traveling through the out reaches of each county you will witness the efforts of each homeowner who took the time to help make our area special this time of year. Middlebourne, the county seat is spectacular!

Travel down the river to Marietta for one of the nicest river front communities light displays you’ll find anywhere, along with the atmosphere to go along with it, as Christmas Carols can be heard through your car radio.

Another highly decorated village worth seeing is the small town of Cameron, Ohio just west of Clarington. It could be the best of them all. With not much else to do, load up the car and head out one evening. It will be a trip worth remembering.

While my thoughts and memories are from many days past, fond memories for today’s youngsters can be seen in the communities we live in and the joy of the season as we know it now. Take the young ones out for a tour of the area and watch the sparkle in their eyes as they look at the transformation the next few weeks.

It truly is magical!