Cold weather and Christmas trees aren’t the only things that mark winter in Franklin County. The area has numerous holiday traditions that provide residents with fun and entertainment right up to the big day.
A recent Herald poll revealed that people in the county enjoy a variety of annual holiday events, ranging from musical performances to home tours. Poll respondents’ top vote-getters:
1. The Bethlehem Project (earning 23.74 percent of the online vote) — Area residents are given the opportunity to have glimpse of what life might have been like during the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
“The Bethlehem Project is held to celebrate Christmas by making the coming of Jesus real for everyone,” organizers said.
2. Santa Paws (21.58 percent) — Pet lovers each year are offered the opportunity to have their four-legged friends photographed with Santa Claus. Sponsored by Prairie Paws Animal Shelter, 3173 K-68, Ottawa, participants received a framed photo of their pets with Santa for a donation.
3. Ottawa Christmas Parade (17.99 percent) — Many poll respondents seemed to appreciate the Ottawa Christmas Parade, which began this year at Forest Park, 600 N. Locust St., and finished at City Park, Fifth and Main streets.
“[The parade] is something exciting to do in the daytime with the kids,” David Hood, who organized the parade with the Ottawa Main Street Association and his wife, Helen Hood, said previously. “It gives the family something to do and gets people downtown.”
The parade featured dozens of floats, several bands, dance clubs, the Shriners and a variety of other entertainment.
4. Suzuki Strings Christmas Concert (7.19 percent) — For the musically inclined, the Suzuki Strings Christmas Concert offered music lovers a chance to hear classic Christmas songs from some of their own.
5. Williamsburg Christmas Parade (5.76 percent) — The Williamsburg Christmas Parade made the list with nearly 6 percent of the votes cast in The Herald’s poll.
6. Ottawa University Christmas Vespers (5.04 percent) — Each year Ottawa University invites Franklin County residents to its traditional Vespers service. This year’s free, public service was Dec. 9 at the Fredrikson Chapel, 1001 S. Cedar St., Ottawa.
During the celebration, the OU orchestra and concert choir performed works by Johann Strauss Sr., Louis-Claude Daquin, Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, George Frideric Handel, William Byrd, Mozart and Thomas Campion, OU said in a press release. The program also included passages from the nativity story, and audience members were given the opportunity to sing familiar Christmas carols.
7. Williamsburg Homes Tour (3.6 percent) — Williamsburg offers residents the opportunity to tour homes decorated for the holidays. The tour, sponsored by the Williamsburg Historical Society and Williamsburg Community Library, was Dec. 2 this year.
8. Wellsville Holiday Craft Show (2.16 percent) — Garnering 2.16 percent of the total votes on The Herald’s poll, the Wellville Holiday Craft Show is one of the favored stops for holiday revelry in the county.
9. Richmond Christmas Festival (2.16 percent) — Each year, Christmas comes to Richmond in the form of its annual Christmas festival. The festivities this year included a tree lighting ceremony and a dinner. After dinner, the big man in red, Santa Claus, made an appearance to read “The Christmas Story” to children and hear what each youngster wanted as a present.
10 (tie). Ottawa Recreation Commission Candy Cane Hunt (1.44 percent) — This family-friendly activity received 1.44 percent of the votes in The Herald’s poll of favorite holiday activities. During this event, which took place at City Park this year, children were able to scour the park for candy and other prizes.
10 (tie). Ransom Memorial Hospital Auxiliary’s Holiday Homes Tour (1.44 percent) — Four families in Ottawa opened their homes this year to guests who wished to see the unique architecture of the historic homes, as well as the holiday decorations. Stops on the tour included homes owned by the Rev. JC and Terie Kelley, Sam and Peggy Caylor, Dr. Allan and Adela Fleming and Maggie Loyd.
Proceeds from the homes tour fundraiser support the Ransom Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Health Care Scholarship Fund, Louise Dietz, one of the auxiliary homes tour organizers, said. Nine scholarships, totaling $6,250, were awarded this year, Mary Royse, auxiliary president, said. The auxiliary has awarded 254 scholarships totaling $151,900 since 1973.
“This is our primary fundraiser for the scholarship fund,” Dietz said. “These scholarships have helped a lot of people through the years.”