By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport’s Heritage Park glowed with Christmas magic during the city’s “A Heritage Holiday” celebration on Dec. 1 and 2.
The event was expanded and moved from its long time home at Groveport Town Hall this year to better accommodate the large number of people who attend the celebration and to offer more festivities.
A large crowd gathered in Heritage Park after the sun set on Dec. 1 to wait for Santa Claus. The Jolly Old Elf and Mrs. Claus arrived in grand fashion on a Madison Township fire truck. Mayor Lance Westcamp as well as a large gathering of happy children and their parents greeted the pair as they descended from the fire engine.
The mayor and Santa flipped a switch to ceremoniously light not only the town Christmas tree, but several other decorated trees in the park. The colorful lights on the trees made it look as though the trees were magically and beautifully floating in the night.
Not only the trees took on a magical aura, but also the Groveport Log House, which was bathed in a warm, golden light.
Santa chatted with many happy faced kids before making his way to his big comfy chair in the log house where he attentively listened to each child’s Christmas wishes.
Heritage Park took on an old fashioned Christmas feel as the Groveport Madison High School Band played Christmas carols. The sound of the horns flowed through the cold night air, which gave a 19th century Dickensian Christmas atmosphere to the park. The musicians smiled and laughed between tunes in spite of having cold fingers.
Back at Palm Pond in the south end of the park, the sounds of the clop-clop of horses and jingle bells could be heard as horse
drawn wagon rides took festival goers around the pond. The path around the pond was lit with the soft light of bagged candles. This light, along with the lights on the wagon, reflected off the pond and gave the wagon ride an other worldly appearance when gazed upon from a distance. The draft horses pulling the wagon exhibited gentle power as steam from their breath rose from their nostrils.
The entire event had a relaxed feel to it and smiles were plentiful. The crowed moved freely about the park, eating cookies, drinking coffee, watching an ice sculptor, visiting with Santa, listening to the music, laughing with each other, and enjoying the Christmas lights that brightened the darkness.
On Dec. 2 visitors not only could see Santa again, but some of his reindeer as well as other animals, including a magnificent turkey (whose loud “gobble, gobble” amazed some of the kids), fuzzy rabbits, ducks and chickens.
The Groveport Madison High School Choir was in fine voice singing carols on Dec. 2 as the group strolled through Heritage Park.
“A Heritage Holiday,” much like the city’s Apple Butter Day and Fourth of July celebrations, is foremost a gathering of community. A place to enjoy oneself and the company of others. A place to remember the past, enjoy the present, and look to the future.
As I left the festival, I walked into the shadows past the Groveport Cemetery, which neighbors Heritage Park. I stood for a moment to see the glow of the Christmas lights and the happy sounds from the festival softly filtering into the cemetery. It’s like the festival also embraced our ancestors resting in the cemetery, who in their time celebrated Christmas and lived their lives in their own way
like we do now. It felt nice to think that those who now rest in the cemetery were, in spirit, part of the festival, too. We’re all together.