While our visit to Chicago for Christmas wrapped up as one of the coldest ever, it was fantastic. The lights and scenes of the city made being bundled up against the cold worthwhile.
A quick drive over to Burnham Park gave a seasonal perspective of the classic skyline view, minus the boats, but with frozen water instead.
The Tribune Tower’s Nathan Hale statue was decked out for the season.
A different view – the Willis (aka Sears) Tower looking north.
With the extreme cold Lake Michigan iced over in the just few days we were there.
Meanwhile up at Wrigley Field they had set up a Christmas Market, complete with an ice rink.
Our final evening was spent walking along the (now frozen as well) Chicago River.
And a walk along the Magnificent Mile.
Christmas eve found us making a quick trip to Steubenville to see a collection of giant themed nutcrackers. But first we made a few stops, starting in the small town of Dresden, where there is yet another giant basket. It was once the home of the Longaberger Basket company, before they moved to their even larger, 7 story basket in Newark.
Later we made a stop in New Rumney, Ohio to visit the Ohio Historical Society tribute to the native son George Custer.
As we reached Steubenville we found a nicely restored 1970s Sohio Gas Station, complete with memorabilia inside. Functioning today as just a garage, with the signs at the pumps pointing out ‘no gas – just memories’; the garage was supposed to be closed that day but someone was working on a car and let us in to check it out.
Finally we arrived at Fort Steuben to the nutcracker display. A local family, whom we met when we were there, designed and built all of them. With over 100 of them all featuring a famous character or person, it was a very impressive display.
As you entered you came upon the Rat Pack, including Steubenville favorite son Dean Martin.
The hundred characters lined both sides of the sidewalks leading to the old fort.
As we were leaving Steubenville we came upon a sculpture honoring the steel workers, overlooking the valley with the mills still cranking out smoke.
Our day to Steubenville turned out to be a really good day, with the nutcrackers easily being the highlight.
This holiday season brought something new to Columbus, the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival, featuring 39 beautiful lantern displays ranging from a 200 feet long illuminated dragon to glowing tulip-lined walk ways. The lanterns are created by hand using silk fabric, steel frames, and tens of thousands of LED lights.
In addition there were performers displaying amazing balance and skills as they featured traditional Chinese acts featured include: jar balancing, kicking bowls on a rolling board, Chinese face-changing (thoroughly amazing display of slight of hand), martial arts, and umbrella juggling.
This event far exceeded the Wild Lights at the Zoo, and was one of the best light displays I have ever seen.
Each Christmas season the Columbus Zoo has a lighting display called ‘Wild Lights‘. Having never been there, we decided to check it out. Unfortunately we decided to go on a night where you had free admission with canned food, and most of Columbus made the same decision.
The lighting displays were ok, most seemed the same, and it was insanely packed with strollers. I always hope to have a good time at the Zoo and always seem to come home disappointed.
Having said that, here are the highlights of the lights.