Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for the ‘Just for Fun’ Category

Castle Noel – A Family Christmas Experience

Castle Noel Buddy

Mark Klaus is ready to welcome you to Castle Noel and their newest movie set, “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas”, starring Buddy!

The most amazing thing you’ve ever seen

is Castle Noel in ’17.”

That’s how Mark and Dana Klaus feels about Castle Noel, which captures the spirit of a family Christmas in several ways. The heart and soul of Castle Noel in Medina is Mark Klaus – with a name like that and a full beard, Christmas seemed a natural passion.

Sweet Shoppe Window

This Sweet Shoppe window display from Saks 5th Avenue is a favorite of visitors.

Growing up, Mark’s dad loved decorating for Christmas. Neighbors came from miles around to see his 16′ Christmas tree, as well as the reindeer and sleigh hanging from their ceiling. The Klaus house looked like a Christmas Wonderland.

Castle Noel Ornament

Mark’s sculpting skills create beautiful ornaments.

Mark, a world renowned master sculptor, displays many of his sculpted ornaments and angels in their gift shop. His miniature detail is accomplished through using dental tools and magnifying glasses. Angels are one of his favorite sculptures. Why?

Mark’s mother was killed in an automobile accident when he was sixteen. It happened on Christmas Eve. Mark said, “This all is a tribute to my mom.”

Castle Noel Church

This former Methodist church in Medina is now home to Castle Noel.

When Mark was searching for the perfect place to locate his enormous Christmas collection, he looked all over the United States but decided to come back to his home area. He found an abandoned Methodist Church built in 1891 in Medina that reminded him of a castle, thus the name, Castle Noel, which opened in 2013.

Castle Noel Lampoon Vacation

Mark drove the camper from Lampoon Vacation all the way from California to Ohio.

Usually Mark and his wife, Dana, work seven days a week and think about Castle Noel twenty four hours a day. Once in a while, they go on vacation. Walt Disney’s parks top the list as Mark’s favorite spots. But he doesn’t go there for the reasons most attend…Mark goes for inspiration for another idea to make Castle Noel even better.

Castle Noel Vortex

Walking through the Blizzard Vortex had everyone hanging onto the handrails.

Every year there’s something new to see at Castle Noel as Mark constantly makes improvements so it can continue to be “America’s Largest Indoor Year Round Christmas Entertainment Attraction”.

Castle Noel Santa Squeeze

Get the feeling of Santa going down the chimney in Santa Squeeze with 100,000 glass bulbs overhead for some extra Christmas cheer.

There seems to be something exciting around each corner, so only a few of the highlights are mentioned here.

 

Castle Noel Grinch set

This is an actual movie set from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

His fantastic collection of Christmas movie sets, props and costumes that are worn in the Hollywood movies is mind boggling. He authenticates everything before displaying it in Castle Noel.

Castle Noel Gummy Bears

Mark was given three hours to remove this gummy bear display from Bloomingdale’s.

As you continue your journey you travel to New York City at Christmas time and stroll through the Platinum award winning animated window displays from Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. Windows from our own Higbee’s in the 60s, Bloomingdale’s, plus Macy’s of Pittsburgh, New York and Washington state create a magical journey for all ages.

Caslte Noel Slide

Go up the stairs through the Enchanted Mountain, see Santa, and ride the slide down…just like Ralphie.

Last stop is Enchanted Mountain filled with animated animals. But it’s the slide back down that everyone enjoys. Seated on a burlap mat, all ages enjoy the thrill of sliding down the giant red slide like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”. A great way to end the tour!

Castle Noel Alien Golf

Have some extra excitement at Alien Vacation Mini Golf.

But wait, there’s more! Outside you’ll find the entrance to Alien Vacation Mini Golf. You enter a 3D wonderland with miles of fiber optics. It now has 19 holes since the landing of the Alien Spaceship. You’ll enjoy this 3D spot whether you decide to play mini-golf or not.

Castle Noel Mark Klaus

A working Mark Klaus has fun with visitors after the tour.

Castle Noel is the perfect place for folks of every generation to make lasting Christmas memories. As Mark and Dana would tell you, “We like having fun around here.”

Castle Noel is located at 260 S Court Street, Medina, Ohio. From I-77 take exit 122B for US-224 W. Take exit 7 for OH-57 into the town of Medina. 

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Chris Hart Performs One-Man Shows That Receive Rousing Reviews

Chris Hart

Chris Hart delights audiences with his repertoire of stories.

One-man performances require much research and attention to detail. Chris Hart has this down to a science. Not only does Chris do extensive research, but he writes all of the programs himself. This makes it easier for him during performances, as he is the only one who knows if he strayed from the original script.

Christopher Hart, museum curator and living historian at Roscoe Village, hales from the country in Tuscarawas County these days, even though born in Cambridge. Living on Steubenville Avenue for the first few years of his life, Chris indicated that he was a “good kid”, always a bit shy.

That shyness continued through school at Newcomerstown High School, where Chris didn’t participate in high school performances. Yet he loved going to the theater and watching.

sherlock (2)

Involved in Sherlock Holmes performances, Chris often portrays Sherlock’s sidekick, John Watson.

So where did the idea for one-man shows first appear? A few years after he married his supporting wife, Suzie, they visited a restored village in Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. There, a man dressed in full costume told a living history story of a Confederate soldier, who never went home. Chris told Suzie, “That would be the ideal job. Fun!” The seed was planted.

Ohio Northern had become his college of choice to study in their pharamaceutical department. For many years, Chris played the real life role of pharmacist all over Tuscarawas County, but has since retired.

Now he had extra time. One day he noticed an ad for a person to portray a village doctor in Roscoe Village. Four people applied and took turns being doctor throughout the season. This was the first real person he had even done, but that was only the beginning.

Chris Hart

Captain Reynolds tells tales of life of the Ohio-Erie Canal.

A Canal Boat Captain on the Ohio-Erie Canal, which ran close to Roscoe Village, was the first character he fully developed himself. He became Captain Reynolds, who in his travels meets a photographer, snake charmer and even a witch.

While Chris began his one-man, first-person performance days at Roscoe Village, it didn’t take long for listeners to know they had a talented storyteller on their hands. He doesn’t just tell a story, he becomes the character in dress, voice, and emotion.

Queen Victoria and Chris Hart

During Dickens Victorian Village season, Chris performed “Audience with the Queen” with Queen Victoria.

His characters usually are drawn from famous historic events, but he doesn’t portray the main character. He finds it much more interesting to portray someone in the background of the event as he sees it through their eyes. Plus, everyone knows what Charles Dickens looked like, but nobody knows much about his close friend, James Fields.

The only famous person he has done is Neil Armstrong giving a press release twenty years after his walk on the moon. So far he has developed nearly forty different characters, and the list continues to grow.

Main Street Bar

Chris greets visitors to Olde Main Street at the original walnut bar from Sam Douglass Saloon in Newcomerstown.

He jokingly says his ideas come from the committee in his head. He takes ideas he personally likes and finds a character to fulfill that role, or he does a request for an organization. It usually takes about two to three months to research and write one of his performances. His best writing time happens at 5:00 in the morning.

Every story has three basic elements to reach the audience. It needs a little humor, the listener needs to feel a tug of emotion, and there’s usually a twist of some kind that makes the story surprising.

Titanic 001

This is a copy of the original boarding pass used for the Titanic.

His most popular show right now features “The Survivor of the Titanic”, where he portrays Peter Daley a first class passenger on the ship. Peter remembers that fateful day when the Titanic went down and how he survived.

Another favorite, “Shepherd’s Journey”, came to him while he was driving his car. A shepherd at the Nativity moves with Jesus through several major events in his life, culminating at the crucifixion and resurrection. This is a popular religious performance from Christmas through Easter.

Prof. Chris Hart

Chris prepares for another pharmaceutical lecture at Belmont Tech.

Even though Chris enjoys his work on stage, he now also teaches pharmaceutical classes at seven different colleges. His favorite class is at the University of Findlay, where he teaches the History of Pharmacy. As you might imagine his classes are fun as well as educational, since he often appears in costume to make the lesson real.

After seeing his schedule, it’s obvious that Chris makes good use of his time with little to spare. When he does have extra time, reading and hiking at Salt Fork provide relaxation. Mt. Everest tops the list of places Chris would like to visit. It’s the tallest mountain in the world with many stories to tell.

Chris a Salt Fork Festival.

At the Salt Fork Festival, Chris told the story, “Paws for the Cause”, about a Civil War soldier and his dog.

Throughout the year, Chris can be found throughout the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee entertaining audiences with his tales of years gone by. His most recent addition tells the story of a 9/11 survivor, “I’m Not a Hero”. Be sure to catch one or more of his one-man shows sometime soon. You’ll be a fan.

This season, 2017, he will be doing a new story for Friends of the Library during Dickens Victorian Village season. This time he takes on the role of Peter Cratchit, Scrooge’s office clerk, in a performance called “My, How Christmas Has Changed”.

When this fantastic storyteller stops to ponder, it’s not uncommon to hear him say, “That reminds me of another story.” Chris Hart brings history to life!

If you would like to contact Chris for a show at your event, phone him at 740–408-4608. You might find him at Olde Main Street in Newcomerstown or follow him on Facebook at Christopher Hart: History Comes to Life. Schedule ahead!

 

 

Summertime Drive in Southeastern Ohio

Something my family has always done, anytime of the year, is take a Sunday drive. This Sunday my goal was the Fly Ferry, but along the way there were some interesting spots as well. Come ride with me!

Willow Island Hydroelectric PlantFor some reason, power plants attract me! This Willow Island Hydroelectric Plant was located across the Ohio River on my drive going up the river from Marietta, Ohio.

Farmers MarketIt was the perfect time of year for a Farmers Market to pick up some fresh Marietta tomatoes, sweet corn and a couple pieces of fudge. Valley View Farm Market even had a U-Pic section to pick your own peppers and tomatoes.

The JugThe Jug Restaurant in Newport, Ohio was a great stop for a refreshing drink and a chance to sit along the Ohio River for a while. They had a great mural of old cars on the side of their building as well as picnic tables and a nearby shelter.

Father son walkIt’s always nice to see families enjoying the day together. Here father and son walk along the pier as they enjoy the river scene.

TugboatThis Illinois tugboat going up the river was pushing thirty barges. Later in the day they came back loaded and covered. People were guessing they were loaded with steel.

Fly FerryReached the Fly Ferry in time for a couple rides at $1 per person from Fly, Ohio to Sistersville, WV. One time there were several motorcycles riding along.

Restaurant SignThe Riverview Restaurant is a great place for a tasty lunch while watching the river activity out the window. Guess that’s why they call is Riverview! Had to agree with this sign on their wall next to a picture of John Wayne.

PipelineHeading home over a crooked back road made for a perfect ending for the day. Along the way the cows were learning to live with the pipeline that was invading their pasture.

Ohio FarmlandMost of the way, farmland and beautiful homes and barns reminded me of a saying:

“In winter’s chill or summer’s heat, a farmer works so the world can eat.”

Seneca LakeAlmost home but stopped by Seneca Lake for a peaceful time by the water. This picture looks out from the dam area to that popular island for boaters.  Guess you can tell that hanging out near the water is a favorite pastime of mine.

Ice Cream ConeOne last stop before home to get a favorite ice cream cone from Orr’s Drive-In. Always enjoy that raspberry twist!

Maybe you can enjoy a Sunday drive in the country sometime soon. Actually, any day will work for me.

 

 

Velvet Ice Cream – A True Original Since 1914

All Ice Cream is Good…

Some is Just Better Than Others.

~Joe and Mike Dager

Velvet Mill

This old mill is now home to Velvet Ice Cream Shoppe where you can find the history of ice cream as well as a restaurant and gift shop.

Velvety smooth ice cream has been produced in Utica for over a hundred years. That’s why more than 150,000 people visit Velvet Ice Cream each year and July is a special month with free samples.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan recognized ice cream as a delicious treat enjoyed by almost everyone and nutritious besides. So he declared July to be National Ice Cream Month.

Velvet First Home

This was the original home of Velvet Ice Cream in the basement of the Utica Ice Company.

Joseph Dager came to the United States in 1903 unable to speak any English. That didn’t stop him from following the American dream of having his own business. His dream became a reality in the basement of a confectionery in Utica in 1914.  That first ice cream was made the old-fashioned way by hand cranking. At that time, there were only three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

They outgrew their basement  home quickly and built a factory behind the confectionery. Then in 1960 they discovered an old gristmill, built in 1817, at the edge of town and thought it the perfect place to build a new factory. The mill was powered by an overshot water wheel, which is 18 feet in diameter and weighs 2000 pounds.

Velvet Operation

Watching Velvet Ice Cream being made shows their high standards of cleanliness.

Since 1914 the same family has been making ice cream for four generations in Utica, Ohio. They make the world a happier place one small batch at a time. Even today they make their ice cream in small batches using local cream and the finest ingredients.

Velvet Favorite Flavor

Their number one selling ice cream is Buckeye Classic, with Southern Butter Pecan running a close second.

Watching the seven steps of ice cream being made on their Factory Tour is not only free, but during July, Monday thru Friday you’ll get a free sample of ice cream as part of that tour. Only natural ingredients are used to make this smooth and creamy ice cream. It immediately goes to a freezer where the temperature is 108-110 degrees to lock in freshness.

Velvet Cow

This Jersey cow, named Velvet of course, signifies their ice cream is all made from local Jersey milk.

Here they produce over five million gallons of ice cream each year. They are the largest producer of ice cream in Ohio. It all begins with milk, cream, sugar and water in just the right proportions. Mixing in air as it freezes is essential as nearly half of the volume of ice cream is air. That’s why you have to crank homemade ice cream so long.

On this visiting day they were making Raspberry Fudge Cordial, Summertime Peach, and Moose Tracks. All delicious!

Velvet Cleaning

After each flavor is finished, the bins must be thoroughly cleaned.

Keeping everything perfectly clean is a top priority. Their employees all change to white uniforms when they enter the factory area. Employees throughout the grounds seemed perfectly happy to be working at Velvet.

After each flavor is finished, the machines must be cleaned. What remains in the machines is placed in red buckets to be picked up later by local hog farmers. Pigs like everything except the mints in mint chocolate chip. They leave those in the bottom of the trough.

Velvet Mill Museum

To honor the old mill, there is a Mill Museum, which displays tools used there years ago.

Visit the Milling Museum to view the reconstructed Ye Old Mill, which began running in 1817. When fire destroyed the old mill in 1986, the family rebuilt it. However, the actual mill wheel is still the original.

Velvet Ice Cream Shoppe

Happy employees patiently give out samples of ice cream until you find your favorite.

Before you leave, you’ll want to stop at Ye Old Mill, where you’ll find their ice cream parlor. Perhaps you’ll want to have a sandwich followed by the freshest ice cream you’ve ever tasted. No matter what their age, everyone enjoys ice cream.

Their largest sundae carries the name “The Feed Bin” and should serve 4-6 hungry people. It contains 14 scoops of ice cream covered with four sauces, bananas, crushed nuts and cherries. Come hungry for that one.

Velvet Trail and Playground

Children enjoy the playground, while nearby walking trails give you a chance to walk off some of that delicious ice cream.

Velvet Pond

The pond offers fishing with their Buckeye Tree Grove on the left side.

Afterwards, perhaps you might want to take a short walk on their Nature Trail that follows an old canal. It’s a chance to walk off some of that delicious ice cream. Or relax by the side of the catch-and-release fishing pond, where you’ll find ducks to feed. There’s enough activity here for an afternoon of fun for kids of any age..

Velvet truck

Eye catching semis deliver gallons of ice cream to Ohio and surrounding states.

Visit Velvet Ice Cream during July to get a free sample right off the line Monday – Friday, 11 – 3.  Spend a yummy day discovering your favorite Velvet Ice Cream flavor.

Velvet Ice Cream is located off I-70 at Exit 132. Take Ohio 13 through Newark to Utica. Their address is 11324 Mt. Vernon Road, Utica, Ohio. It is right along Route 13 so quite easy to find. 

 

 

 

World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock in “Little Switzerland of Ohio”

Cuckoo Welcome

This large billboard at the edge of town announces Sugarcreek attractions.

Visit “Little Switzerland of Ohio” to see the “World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock”. Sugarcreek is now home to that famous clock, which was purchased by Walnut Creek Cheese and donated to the tourist town.

But the clock had its beginnings back in 1963 as an idea of Alice Grossniklaus, owner of Alpine Alpa, a restaurant and cheese house. She thought a large cuckoo clock would help bring trade to her restaurant. Designed and built by Karl Schleutermann, twelve years and $50,000 later, the clock was up and running.

This 23-foot- 6 inch tall timepiece originally stood in Wilmot on a hill in back of the Alpine Alpa restaurant. Alice and her husband, Hans, made it the #1 Swiss cheese shop in the country. But things changed over the years and all the restaurant fixings were auctioned off, including the clock.

Cuckoo Clock

The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock waits for all to enjoy.

Mark Coblentz of Walnut Creek Cheese purchased the clock at auction. It sat in a parking lot for two years while they looked for the perfect place to set it.

When the residents of Sugarcreek were trying to decide where to put the clock, many wanted it placed inside a building with an admission charge of about five dollars per visit. But Mayor Clayton Weller didn’t have the same vision. He wanted the clock to be free for all to enjoy, as often as they wanted.

When Mayor Weller sets his heart on something, he gets it accomplished. Land was purchased, the foundation set and a crane moved that clock between two crabapple trees without touching a limb. Clayton likes challenges, perhaps that’s why in his spare time he drag races.

Today the clock is on Sugarcreek’s Broadway Street. In 2012, the clock resumed its cuckooing duties after volunteers worked diligently to restore the electrical mechanisms. Those little Bavarian figures still do the polka.

Cuckoo Cuckoo Clock

The cuckoo is the first thing you see and hear each half hour.

Visitors are thrilled every thirty minutes when a bell rings, and out pops a cuckoo bird. Next a three-foot-tall couple on tracks dance the polka to Bavarian music played by a five-piece oompa band.

Cuckoo Swiss Hilltoppers

The oompa band, The Hilltoppers, entertains as the couple dances.

The dancers and band are made out of wood from the Black Forest in Germany. Currently, the dancers take a break as the wood started splitting on the lady’s dress. That would have destroyed her, if not fixed quickly.

The mechanical part of this clock is a marvel with many intricate pieces. When viewed through the back door, the system is even more amazing. Most incredible is the fact that this clock is forty-five years old. They even have the original eight-track tapes that played that first music.

Cuckoo Waterwheel

A waterwheel on the side of the building adds a little extra splash.

A satellite on the clock monitors the sound system so it can easily be checked from home anytime. The people of this town really care about the clock. A group of men Clayton called the Cuckoo Brothers spend endless hours working on and checking the clock. Another special group, the Four Amigos, plant and care for 165 geraniums that surround the clock in the summer time. That shows real dedication to their community!

Guinness World Records was contacted regarding the clock’s official unveiling to verify that it is indeed the world’s largest. “It has to work as a real cuckoo clock, like you’d buy at a store,” said Mayor Weller, confident that his clock would be crowned the largest in the world. “A lot of work went into it,” he said. “Everybody says it’s never looked as good as it does now.”

A friend, Big Mike, secretly made all the arrangements with Guiness World Records, and one day Clayton was called asking why the street was blocked off and a crowd of people were at the clock. He knew nothing about these plans, so headed that way. What he saw surprised him completely.

Cuckoo Mayor Clayton

May Clayton Welller has been instrumental in getting the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock up and running.

Under a blanket on an easel was that coveted Guiness Book of World Records certificate. It verified that the clock in Sugarcreek definitely took the honors of the Largest Cuckoo Clock in the World. Today the office of Mayor Weller proudly displays that certificate.

In order to pay for this project without burdening the local residents, a bedtax plan has been used. Next year the land and moving expenses will be paid in full. Then the money will be used for repairs and maintenance on this local treasure.

Cuckoo 1

This picture was taken on a summer day with all the beautiful geraniums in bloom.

People come from all over the world to visit the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock. Many remember coming years ago with their families, but most are making new memories as they watch the mechanical marvel play its song every thirty minutes.

Visit Sugarcreek, Little Switzerland of Ohio, to visit their delightful small town and unique chalet-styled cuckoo clock. Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

The World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock is located at 100 N Broadway Street, Sugarcreek, Ohio. Take I-77 to Exit 83, which will be Ohio 39. Go west about 8 miles and turn left on Broadway Street. You can’t miss the Cuckoo Clock on the corner of Broadway and Main.

Evidence of Bigfoot in Southeastern Ohio

Bigfoot Newcomerstown

This large Bigfoot outside The Feed Barn keeps an eye on customers.

Bigfoot captures the attention and following of many residents of Southeastern Ohio. Frequent meetings are held all year with devotees telling of their latest sightings and experiences with the illusive Bigfoot.

Recently an employee of Salt Fork State Park saw something large stand up along the road as she was driving past Hosak’s Cave in the park. This Bigfoot ran into the woods, but left behind a large footprint, which the Bigfoot investigators made into a plaster cast.

Bigfoot Crossing

It’s no surprise that in the Salt Fork Lake area you might find a Bigfoot Crossing.

Each spring, Salt Fork State Park holds Ohio Bigfoot Conference, which draws hundreds to listen to the latest information about Sasquatch, another name for Bigfoot. This year those dates are May 19 and 20. Cliff Barackman from Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Bigfoot Orrs

Vicky Veselenak shares a passion for Bigfoot with her dad, Marvin Orr.  You can have lunch with Bigfoot at Orr’s Drive-in.

Several area businesses use Bigfoot as a drawing card. In Byesville, Marvin Orr at Orr’s Drive-In placed a statue of Bigfoot beside their picnic tables. Marvin and his daughters frequently attend Bigfoot meetings and conferences. After hearing all the stories told by ordinary people, it makes them believe there’s ‘something’ out there.

Daughter Vicky used the Bigfoot theme in her classroom in Rolling Hills for years. Her bulletin boards were alive with his image, wooden Bigfoots made great hall passes and she designed her own six foot tall Bigfoot with a jigsaw. Stop by Orr’s and have lunch with Bigfoot.

BF The Feed Barn

Three Bigfoot statues draw attention to The Feed Barn in Newcomerstown. Doyle Donathan, manager, enjoys sharing stories about this mysterious creature.

The Feed Barn in Newcomerstown displays and sells Bigfoot statues and tee shirts because of all the sightings in the area. Recently, a young boy was crossing the railroad tracks down by the Tuscarawas River and checked both ways to make sure no train was coming. No train in sight, but he did see a Bigfoot step across the track easily with one long stride.

Bigfoot Caldwell

Denny Crock keeps customers watching as he frequently dresses Bigfoot as a snowboarder, fisherman, or even ready for Jamboree in the Hills. It’s difficult to find his shirt size – 7X.

In Noble County at the Caldwell Food Center Emporium, you will be greeted by Bigfoot at the entrance to the parking lot. Denny Crock, owner, knew people talked about Bigfoot frequently so wanted a concrete statue at his store. This 6’2”, 2400 pound creature attracts much attention.

Bigfoot Salt Fork

This carved, restrained, wooden statue hangs out in Wildlife Lounge at Salt Fork Lodge.

Out at Salt Fork Lodge, Ohio Bigfoot Conference donated a carved wooden statue since their meeting provides Salt Fork Lodge its largest conference of the year. Rooms and cabins are filled to capacity this weekend and the Lodge Gift Shop has record sales with their wide range of memorabilia.

Bigfoot Gift Shop

The hottest items at the Salt Fork Lodge Gift Shop are tee shirts. But they also have              “Bigfoot I Believe” wine,  action figures, games and much, much more.

Nothing But Chocolate will give you a sweet taste of Bigfoot as she has his footprints for sale – in chocolate of course. Amanda makes these delicious footprints for the Bigfoot Conference and for State Park Conventions held at Salt Fork.

Local investigations began with Don Keating in 1980. He wrote an article about a sighting in the Newcomerstown area. Since then Don had organized the Ohio Bigfoot Conferences at Salt Fork State Park until he recently stepped back to devote more time to another interest – meteorology.

Bigfoot Doug

Doug Waller, local Bigfoot investigator and enthusiast, has written two books about the group’s experiences.

Doug Waller speaks frequently around the area about the legendary Bigfoot. The founder of Southeastern Ohio Society for Bigfoot Investigation, Doug and his team tell about the activities and sightings of this mysterious creature.

Ideas range from an ape-like animal to an extraterrestrial being. The Native Americans saw Bigfoot as a spiritual being, including it on their totem poles.  The Delaware Indians cautioned residents here long ago to put out food offerings for “the wild ones in the woods”.

Bigfoot sign

This clever sign always brings a smile to the face of Bigfoot fans.

Each person is free to explore the ideas he finds probable. But when you hear a scratch on the wall, smell something terrible outside your door, or see an eight-foot tall creature lumber off into the woods, you just might become a believer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joel Losego Lights Up the Holiday Season

courthouse-light-show-2

This spectacular Holiday Light Show brings visitors back again and again.

One of the main attractions during Dickens Victorian Village’s season is the spectacular Holiday Light Show at the Guernsey County Courthouse in downtown Cambridge. This did not happen overnight. It took over a year to design the first light show – a gift from Grant Hafley, with programming help from Joel Losego.

lite-brite

Joel’s favorite toy as a youngster was Lite-Brite.

According to his mother, Joel has always been interested in lights. In fact, as a child, his favorite toy was Lite-Brite. At a very young age, his parents said that he had the lights on their Christmas tree blinking in rhythm.

When he was six years old, his summers were spent helping his dad on construction. He saved the money his dad gave him that summer to buy a CB radio, which he still has.

avc

These are the AVC stations you enjoy.

As a middle school student at Buckeye Trail, he began working at AVC Communications in Cambridge. He continued working there until he graduated from Ohio University. Helping owner, Grant Hafley, an electrical engineer, Joel learned to design flashing lights with control boards for area dances.

He also volunteered doing sound at his church, the State Theater, and Living Word during that time. Sound intrigued him, Joel remarked, “I always knew what I wanted to do.”

radio-station

The radio station sets high on College Hill.

Then Joel headed off to work in various states on national television networks developing internet and website experience. Basically a home body, Joel served as a beta tester for new software in his spare time. While working for ESPN at special TV events, it became necessary for him to travel all over the country.

Joel missed his family during this time and knew he needed to make some changes. Who should call but his old friend, Grant Hafley. Grant said he was looking for someone to buy AVC Communications. But he wanted a person who would keep the community spirit alive.

joel-losego

Joel conducts much of his business from the computer at his desk.

The moment his life changed was six months later in 2005 at Disney World, a magical place indeed. Joel talked to Grant Hafley during the Disney Parade, and finished the deal for the purchase of AVC. He was on his way back to Guernsey County, a place he never expected to return.

About this time Grant Hafley, who supported Dickens Victorian Village, wanted to do something special to draw more people to town. Lighting up the courthouse to make it a show seemed like a possibility.

Then a year of plans began with help from Grant and a programmer from Arizona. During the second year, the show became Joel’s ‘baby’ and he has been the only person programming it ever since. Right now he is teaching another young person how to continue the operation.

computer-screen

This picture of Joel’s computer screen shows a touch of his planning.

Programming is a tedious process. Every two minutes of light show for the courthouse takes over eighteen hours to complete. Needless to say, Joel spends a lot of time at the computer designing the program. It takes time and patience to synchronize 55,000 lights to over 150 Christmas songs.

courthouse-tree

The Christmas tree was put in place at the courthouse near the end of October.

This year’s light show had a few major changes. For the first time all the lights were LED so the courthouse seems brighter than ever.What appears to be fireworks appears above the courthouse roof.

On the courthouse steps, four lighted trees form Craig’s Christmas Quartet. This is the first time an entire song has been sung and it’s acapella in four part harmony. This is a tribute to Craig, the caretaker at the courthouse, who has been so helpful to Joel and friends over the years.

open-house-quartet

Ctaig’s Christmas Quartet appeared for the first time in 2016.

As a way to get people directly involved with the light show, Joel has used an idea from Disney. A Magical Lightshow Wristband has been designed with a computer chip. When this wristband is at the courthouse, it becomes controlled by the light show and flashes along with it.

This is the first time anything has been sold to raise money for the light show. The cost of the wristband is $20, but you must remember “It’s not a toy. It’s a computer.”

wristband

This Magical Lightshow Wristband flashed with the music.

When asked about his favorite Christmas music, Joel paused as he enjoys so many. Finally, he admitted that Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells, Gene Autry’s Rudolph, and Andy Williams’ White Christmas were among his favorites.

One of his favorite pastimes will surprise you. He enjoys going to the courthouse light show anonymously to listen to comments about the show. “It’s fun watching other people watch the show.” There he finds ideas for the future as well as improvements that can be made.

open-house-grant-and-joel

Grant Hafley and Joel Losego talk to visitors from the edge of the crowd.

Ten months out of the year, Joel works approximately thirty hours a week on the programming for the Guernsey County Courthouse Holiday Light Show. November and December, when it is running, are his months off from programming. But he’s always handy in case there’s a problem with the program. Most can be fixed from his computer, wherever he happens to be.

When Joel gets an idea, he usually jumps right in and makes it happen. One thing he has put on hold is a trip he wants to share with his wife to Maui. His dream places them at a resort, overlooking the ocean at sunset while having dinner. He even has a video of it on his phone. Someday you can be certain this too will happen. He makes his dreams reality.

light-cd

Remember the evening of the Holiday Light Show with this CD.

Come to Cambridge and watch the Guernsey County Courthouse Holiday Light Show any evening from November 1 to January 2, 2017 starting at 5:30 until 9:00. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to spot Joel watching too.

The Guernsey County Holiday Light Show happens in Cambridge, Ohio at their courthouse square along old Route 40. You don’t want to miss it.

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