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Published: December 13, 2023

Christmas light display in Cambridge, OH

One of the paradox’s of this time of year is that as the days grow naturally darker, the outdoors gets brighter, thanks to artificial lights.

As we near the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year which occurs this year on Dec. 21 at 10:27 p.m. (EST), consider taking a tour of holiday light displays, near and not so far.

The lights are on…

Like many families, many Kendal residents like to do their own thing when it comes to taking in the holiday lights. This week residents will climb aboard the Kendal bus and head to some of their favorite decorated homes in the Oberlin area, then drive by the light display at Carlisle Reservation in LaGrange, headquarters for the Lorain County Metro Parks.

Other Metro Parks display include “Lights on the Lake,” a drive-through event at Lakeview Park in Lorain. The lights are on daily 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Dec. 30. If you visit Lakeview Park on Dec. 15 (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) you might want to get out of your car and visit with Santa inside the Sunset Terrace for some hot chocolate, cookie decorating, crafts, and photo opportunity.

Another parks display is “Iconic Holiday” at Miller Nature Preserve in Avon. This year’s display, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Dec. 30, focuses on recognizable American holiday traditions with a blend of interpretive hands-on activities set among sensory-designed scenes.

Just like Kendal residents, you can easily put together an itinerary of brightly lit private residents to visit, thanks to the help of Northeast Ohio Family Fun.

Here are 5 house displays in Lorain County that based on published photographs are worth a drive-by:

  1. Klein family, 1942 Jaycox Rd., Avon, featuring more than 1,000 multicolored lights and 19 inflatables including a giant 20-foot-tall Santa.
  2. Salem family, 37811 Century Lane, Avon, which is also a fundraiser for autism awareness in support of their son’s diagnosis;
  3. DeVere family, 688 Lear Road, Avon Lake, with more than 30,000 LED lights and 30 Christmas trees;
  4. Bob Mangan, 34907 Cambridge Dr., North Ridgeville, with more than 50,000 lights and a photo op with a life-like Santa;
  5. Griswold, 194 Fay Ave., Avon Lake, featuring handmade toy soldiers and more than 40 decorated trees.

Head east to Cuyahoga County for these three attractions.

At the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, you can either walk or drive through the “Wild Winter Nights” display, featuring more than 1.5 million lights and a 50-foot tree. Check the schedule and purchase tickets in advance.

The 99th annual light display at NELA Park, GE Lighting’s headquarters at 1975 Noble Road in East Cleveland, covers several blocks of Noble Road. The lights are on 24/7 through Jan. 2 and includes a replica of the National Christmas Tree that is put up annually in Washington D.C. (The DC tree, powered by GE, will be turned on Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. (EST) and televised on CBS).

The “Magic of Lights” is a drive-through at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea. One carload, one price.

Take a holiday road trip  

Ohio’s tourism department has compiled a list of 70 holiday attractions. You can even download a trail map with attractions divided into 5 sections of the for easy planning.

Here are 4 you might not know about:

  1. Conservatory Aglow, at Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, which includes lights synchronized with holiday music (Central Ohio);
  2. The Legendary Lights of Historic Clifton Mill, featuring a 100-foot waterfall of twinkling lights (Southwest Ohio)
  3. Dickens Victorian Village in Cambridge (photographed above), which features nearly 100 Victorian-era scenes in its historic downtown (Southeast Ohio);
  4. Armstrong Air & Space Museum Holiday Lights in Wapakoneta that includes a twenty-foot-tall Saturn V rocket and a giant Apollo-era astronaut saluting the American flag. (Northwest Ohio).

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Author Molly Kavanaugh 2020In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.

About Kendal at Oberlin: Kendal is a nonprofit life plan community serving older adults in northeast Ohio. Located about one mile from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and about a 40 minute drive from downtown Cleveland, Kendal offers a vibrant resident-led lifestyle with access to music, art and lifelong learning.