Holiday lights brighten the season in Obetz area

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photos by Linda Dillman
Obetz employee Brian Martaney spent time outdoors working on a little lighted magic in preparation for the Village’s holiday celebration.
An 1870s era former Lutheran church along Groveport Road, purchased by Obetz in 2018, is outlined in lighted holiday splendor as it greets visitors on their way to the heart of the village.
An Obetz icon, the village’s gazebo is dressed up for the holidays in greenery and white lights.
One need not go far for a mesmerizing light show with a multi-story tree in downtown Obetz that flashes through sequences of patterns.
Simple strands of red, green and white lights outline a house on Belford Avenue in Hamilton Meadows giving it a gingerbread-like look.
A pulsating archway of LED lights frame the exit to Obetz’s first annual light display that winds its way near and through the Fortress Obetz parking lot.
A flock of flying reindeer lead the way to a video of Santa and his elves in their North Pole workshop.

Years ago, long before roof-topping inflatables that wobble in the wind and look like road kill when electricity is cut to their power sources, there was the single strand of Christmas lights.

A single strand to brighten the darkness around Christmas time. A single strand to show your neighbors you had the holiday spirit. A single strand that served as beacon to let you know you were close to home.

Sometimes, if your family was fancy, a single strand of lights became multiple strands of lights that outlined a house in a rainbow of blue, yellow, red, green and sometimes purple.

Our house was a little different. My daddy splurged one year and bought a strand of red bells hooked to red lights that twinkled on and off above our front door and window.

I thought it was magical…that single strand of bells. It was the only Christmas decoration on the front of our little 1960s-era ranch house for many years.

Just before Christmas, I would sit in wide-eyed amazement when my daddy, mother and I would hop in the car and drive around our housing development looking at the lights of other like-minded families.

Some streets were illuminated brightly and it was usually the same houses year after year. Many had tall plastic—what would later be called kitschy—Santas and snowmen plugged into a spider web of electrical cords.

Other than the soft glow of a Christmas tree in the window, on other streets, a forlorn streetlight was the only break in the darkness.

Today, lights are everywhere and in forms unimaginable to my six-year-old self. Illumination has ventured out from the façade of homes to the yard and even onto vehicles of every imaginable size and shape.

Today, that single strand of lights, even where I grew up, has morphed into light-up the night displays you can see from the next street over.

In Obetz, a small village when I was a kid, there are detailed light displays of holiday icons like Santa, gifts and animals lining the driveway leading up to the 8,000-seat Fortress Obetz complex. Workers like Brian Martenay cover trees and shrubs throughout Obetz’s municipal complex with bright lights while a massive, illuminated archway baths cars driving beneath it with holiday brightness as twilight approaches.

Standing proudly in a nearby park, a multi-story tree greets visitors with thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights as houses outlined in colorful bulbs bid vehicles to slow down and take a look.

My beloved Hamilton Meadows still hosts homes outfitted in rainbow strands of lights, animated woodland creatures clearly outlined against the background of the night and myriad lighted plastic characters.

And, yes, I drive through the entire development every year at least a couple of times looking at the lights.

But my favorite? A small bungalow on Belford Avenue that is simply outlined in red and green lights. Nothing fancy, but a classic in its simplicity that jettisons me back in time.

Merry Christmas everyone and keep your own lights shining, whether it is a cascade of Griswold-worthy illumination or a simple strand leading you home.

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