Downtown Concierge

Grand Illuminations kick off season at Downtown parks


In the Media


The Columbus Dispatch

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, particularly Downtown, where thousands gathered last night to watch the city come to life — and light.

The Scioto Mile and Columbus Commons are shimmering in their holiday finery of hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights after Grand Illumination ceremonies.

Fireworks a day short of December heralded the start of the holiday season at Columbus Commons, and the sweet voices of the Columbus Children’s Choir preceded the lighting of the trees at Bicentennial Park.

Families stuffed both parks for an array of activities and music, as more than 200,000 lights blazed to life along the riverfront and 100,000-plus multicolored lights flooded the Commons.

The lights will shine until Jan. 15.

Smiles and holiday spirits, including spiked cider and Snowdrift porter for the grown-ups, were in abundance last night among a crowd pushing an extraordinary number of strollers bearing excited children.

Three-year-old Grace Gibbons was enthused about her father’s offer of a ride on the carousel at the Commons. She was determined to ride a horse, not one of the other whimsical animals on the merry-go-round.

Ben and Michelle Gibbons, both 41 and from Clintonville, saw the colorful setting as a perfect occasion for some fun with the girls, including 1-year-old Hope. “They are excited about the music. They were like, ‘Wow!’ ” Dad said.

Eli and Miranda Cummons, both 25, packed up McKenzie, 5, and Hanna, 3, and drove from Johnstown for “a family night out, a chance to see the lights and let the kids see Santa.”

The girls looked a little shy on the lap of Santa, who sat in a sleigh beside a sparkling 40-foot-tall Christmas tree, as Dad recorded the visit with his cellphone.

Santa magically pulled double duty at both parks, attracting dozens-deep lines of patient parents and couldn’t-stand-still kids with wish lists.

“Go, Santa! Go, Santa!” Emya Lewis, 5, shouted as she danced with sister Kanai, 6, at the appearance of the main man on stage at Bicentennial Park.

Asked whether they had been good and a visit from Santa was in store, they looked toward Mom. Yes, affirmed Shafee Lewis, 34, of the East Side.

Daughter Kaleece, 3, and son, Kevin, 12, also joined Mom for the yuletide kickoff. “It’s awesome,” Lewis said of the 80,000 colorful lights concentrated at Bicentennial Park. “The view of the city is most beautiful.”

Another thing was more beautiful, though.

The joy of Emya and Kanai, and the other children, outshone the lights.