Get your Christmas costume and join the Reindeer Games


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Karen Stiles
Some of the participants at the 2019 Reindeer Games.

Santa arrives early in Canal Winchester and his reindeer—along with Destination:Canal Winchester—are kicking off the month with a morning of fun and games throughout the downtown area.

The second annual Reindeer Games was held for the first time in 2019 with 50 participants, but put on pause last year due to the pandemic. This year it takes place on Dec. 4 at 10:15 a.m. when host sites Shade On the Canal and Barrel & Boar, who are event sponsors, open their doors to participants—some outfitted in full holiday regalia.

“Each location will have free food and drink discounts for those who have paid to participate,” said D:CW Executive Director Karen Stiles. “Each location may also have a few fun games for the participants to play and each location will have an award for the Best Costume.”

At noon, participants hit the streets to ‘strut their stuff.’

According to Stiles, costumes in 2019 included individuals dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation,” abominable snowman, Yukon Cornelius, snowmen, reindeer and Christmas packages.

Some people even donned their ugliest Christmas sweaters and Christmas pajamas to join in the fun. The oldest participant was a woman in her 80s.

“This is a procession along the sidewalks of North High Street to show off their fun holiday costumes to those who may be in town shopping or dining,” said Stiles. “Participants then return to their original location or bop around to other locations to enjoy the afternoon and show off their Christmas gear. Whether you’re sitting in the restaurant eating your lunch or out and about in historic downtown Canal Winchester, it’s fun to see the variety of creative costumes.”

Destination: Canal Winchester created the event with two goals in mind—to raise money and gifts for the city’s Human Services Adopt a Family program and bring people to Canal Winchester to shop and eat.

“Some people come to town on that Saturday early to avoid the Christmas in the Village crowds and this adds a bit more fun to that trip,” said Stiles. “I’ve been asked why we have it the same weekend as Christmas in the Village, and that is so CW Human Services has the gifts and money in time to use as they need.”

Participants and spectators alike can bring gift donations—unwrapped book, toys or teen gift— the day of the event and place them in the boxes in front of Shade on the Canal and Barrel & Boar. In the event of inclement weather, donation boxes may be inside each location.

Financial donations can be dropped off at CW Human Services, located at 80 Covenant Way off of Groveport Road. Since the organization is a non-profit, donations are tax deductible.

While the 2019 event was called Reindeer Run, Reindeer Games is the same event renamed to clear up any confusion.

“Many people thought it was going to be either a 5K or a bar crawl because of the event name,” said Stiles. “It is neither. We’re hoping the new name will make it clear it isn’t a run, so anyone/any age may participate. Though this event is geared towards adults, we had several children participate in 2019. They enjoyed the food and showing off their costumes as much as the adults did. And we will have a few children’s activities pages and a gift available for the young ones that show up.”

For information or to register for Reindeer Games, visit online and click on the event tab.


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