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Paradise by Reflector Light

You’ve likely seen that prolific biking idiom on a Harley Davidson cutoff tee—or more ironically—a bumper sticker attached to a Prius. Although predominantly used in motorcycle circles by hefty chaps named Tiny, I can’t help but extend its philosophy to the everyday bicycle. After all, cycling has transcended the mere “environmentally conscious option of getting [...]
Danny Hamen

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You’ve likely seen that prolific biking idiom on a Harley Davidson cutoff tee—or more ironically—a bumper sticker attached to a Prius.

Although predominantly used in motorcycle circles by hefty chaps named Tiny, I can’t help but extend its philosophy to the everyday bicycle. After all, cycling has transcended the mere “environmentally conscious option of getting from A to B” into its own unique and flourishing counterculture, one that accentuates existential release.

But in order for a flourishing culture exist, there is typically a hub through ideas can be propagated and digested, a meeting spot where its affiliates can assemble and embrace their shared cultural mores.

It was this type of fraternal camaraderie that allured Dan Monning, owner of Short North’s Paradise Garage, into cycling culture.

“There was a great shop that I discovered in high school that really turned into a peer group and social atmosphere—from giving us rides to organizing races to helping us work on our bikes,” he said.

So, with the help of his wife Emily, the pair created a space within Columbus for cycling enthusiasts to congregate. Sure, they fix bikes and sell bikes and biking accessories, but to them and many others, their business means so much more.

“In my opinion, Paradise Garage is the most active bike shop in Columbus due to their contributions to Columbus cycling culture,” said Jen Malik, who joined the Paradise Garage mountain biking team last year.

Paradise Garage’s involvement with the cycling scene is the foundation of their success. It is the countless events, fundraisers, gallery showings, and even dance parties that separates them from the pack.

“You always hear companies saying, ‘We care about the community, our customers, and making a difference,’ but a lot of that is just empty corporate jargon,” said Chris Arndt, Paradise Garage’s cyclo-cross captain. “Paradise Garage owners and employees genuinely care about the community and those who are customers of the shop.”

You may recognize Paradise Garage from their High Street real estate, but they’re not just a retail store—far from it, in fact. Their business plan encompasses that jolt of uninhibited energy while riding on a dirt trail, racing for your life, mud whizzing past the spokes and onto your helmet in a fury of competition. This is what they are about—organizing, arranging, and unifying a culture of speed freaks, all exemplified by an outstanding track record of event organization.

“Hands down, there is no other cycling club in Columbus that is more involved on all levels and disciplines of racing (road, mountain bike, cylcocross, track), community rides (Pelotonia, Bike the CBus, TOSRV, Goldsprints, weekly Paradise Garage group rides), and volunteer events (ClungerBeats, COMBO Trail Days, Kids on Bikes),” Arndt said.

“It’s a new form of adventure,” said Emily, reflecting on the rush of competitive trail racing. “It feels like you could be almost anywhere in the world when you are going down a gravel road, especially when there are like chickens and a horse that crosses the road, and you’re like, ‘I could be on any continent in the world, but I am only an hour from my house.”

Walking into the shop, I was immediately struck by its familiarity—from the stained timber walls, the tall standing ceilings to the smell of newly crafted rubber. It has that cool, artsy bike shop vibe one can come to expect from the most prolific bike shop in the Short North. A younger mechanic with an armful of colorful tattoos and bright green gauges worked somberly on a custom Schwinn as Dan and Emily came out to greet me.

Back in 2008, the couple was looking for a place to settle down and own a business that coincided with their shared passion. Not surprisingly, they landed on Columbus.

“Well, one reason was the actually topography. It’s not intimidating,” said Emily. “There are not many hills, lots of great multi-purpose trails, especially north to south, and there are lots of types of riding you can get into. All of that is kind of represented in Columbus.”

Both agree that it wasn’t their divine hand that created a community. After all, cycle culture had already existed in Columbus long before 2008. What is important to note is the reciprocal nature of their relationship with the community, in that they have received just as much support as they have doled out.

“The very first year we opened, we morphed and changed based on the people that worked for us—the people that hung out at the shop and our team,” Emily said. “All of these personalities come together to create this community. Sure, it’s a clubhouse for some, but its really more a place where people have enthusiasm that they want to share with others.”

On that note, the couple emphasized that you don’t have to be a cycling aficionado draped in reflective spandex to enter the scene. Dan and Emily and the Paradise team welcome all into the community, even the newbies, like me.

“If you have never ridden before, are interested, and you want to know how to get into it, you will totally find people here who would love to share that information,” she said.

With that in mind, I asked them for a quick buying guide to get me in gear for the upcoming season. After all, my car is on her last leg. With a genuine set of smiles, the couple divulged the type of things you should have in mind when walking into a shop for the first time:

What style of riding are you interested in?

Are you looking to ride the bike trails, get to work in a timely manner, or race on top of a mountain? This question really helps you get in tune with what type of bike you want to buy.

      

1. Ask all the questions that you have.

A lot of people have a misconception that you are supposed to go in with a lot of prior knowledge. Our people absolutely love answering questions—it makes us feel useful. We are interested in what you are interested in, and after all, we are the experts.

      

2. Ride some bikes.

The proof is in the pudding. Riding the bikes helps you match up with what you like, and help gauge the size of bike that fits you best. What feels good to you? At that point you can narrow in on the bike you want.

3. Accessorize.

Get a helmet, a lock, lights, comfortable clothing, that sort of thing. There are lots of things even casual riders will need to be safe on the trails. After all, safety is sexy.

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Scream Team: Behind-the-scenes look at local haunting industry

Mike Thomas

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Like many a fiend of silver screen fame, the origins of Kelly Collins’ career in terror involve some teens, a campground, and a fateful ride into the deep, dark woods.

Thirty-eight years ago, Collins was general manager at a campground. Every Saturday at noon, he’d hook up a wagon to a tractor and treat the young campers to a hayride through the woods. The route Collins followed circled around an old oak tree, before turning around and coming back to the start. One Saturday, some mischievous teens sprang out from behind the tree, giving quite a scare to the unsuspecting wagoneers. All of the children screamed in surprise—then they laughed.

Kelly Collins (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

This gave Collins an idea. To spice up his little hayride, he would arrange for the teens to act out the same routine the next Saturday— but this time, he’d up the ante by giving them rubber masks to wear. His plan was set in motion, and this time, the startled youngsters on the wagon cried all the way back to the campground.

“That was a bad idea, but it got me thinking...Why don’t we have a hayride at night and call it the ‘Spooky Hayride?’ ” Collins recalls. By fine-tuning the balance between fear and fun, Collins’ new enterprise was a success, and would set him on the path to a lifelong career in the haunted house business, or “haunting” as it’s known to its practitioners.

Early in his career, Collins became a key figure in the Central Ohio scream scene. After his haunted hayride, he spent a couple of seasons overseeing the Hallowscream event at the now- defunct Wyandot Lake. It was there that he was approached by Ken Schnacke, General Manager and President of the Columbus Clippers baseball team, who tapped Collins to create and lead the “Terror Park” event that was held at Cooper Stadium for a decade.

When the Clippers made the move to Huntington Park, the Terror Park event was shelved. Collins set out again on his own, founding the Scareatorium: a haunted house attraction occupying a 40,000-square-foot space in a northeast Columbus strip mall.

Over the next decade, the Scareatorium would serve as a hub for haunters, attracting and nurturing some of the city’s top talents in the field. From actors, makeup artists, set designers and people who just appreciate a good scare, the group that grew from Collins’ enterprise came together over buckets of blood and latex viscera, but now enjoy the valuable connection of a genuine community.

A longtime compatriot of Collins, Keith Newsome was one of the creative minds behind Terror Park and the Scareatorium. Though he specializes in visual effects design and fabrication, Newsome’s talents in haunting are wide-ranging. Since retiring from 13th Floor, Newsome has remained a vital member of the community, teaching classes on topics ranging from makeup application to mask making and performance.

Keith Newsome (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

This season, he’s lending his skills to an attraction in Lancaster, Ohio titled “A True American Haunt: Birth of a Nightmare.” The house is set up in the Miller Building, a “poor house” originally built in 1828, which event promoters suggest may in fact be haunted. According to Newsome, the building is classified as one of the top-10 haunted houses in the United States, and was recently filmed for an upcoming episode of The Travel Channel show Destination Fear.

“It’s actually a haunted place. I don’t believe in that crap...I do now,” says Newsome. “There’s something in that place. I don’t go on the third or fourth floor anymore.”

Keith Newsome (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

Whether patrons can expect to encounter bona fide spirits along with latex-clad actors in this haunt remains to be seen, but whatever the case, the event serves an important purpose. All proceeds from this haunt will benefit Habitat for Humanity’s plan to revitalize the historic Miller Building, and to help build housing for local veterans.

The charitable angle for this event comes as no surprise in an industry that at times seems like an extended family. People attracted to haunting come from every imaginable background, but are united by a common passion.

“I’ve had people who are financial managers of huge companies, down to people who are almost homeless,” says Newsome. “The cool part about it is that we treat everybody equally. When you walk in, you’re automatically family.”

One member of Newsome’s haunt family is Bobbi Jo Gonzalez, an artist who has turned a passion for body art and makeup into a year-round career.

Bobbi Jo Gonzalez (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

Gonzalez’s first foray into the industry came while volunteering with her eldest daughters at a home haunt. Stepping up to fill the need for a makeup artist, Gonzalez gleaned what she could from YouTube videos. Her tool kit at that time consisted of, as she calls it, “that really crappy makeup you get at Kroger around Halloween.”

After encouragement from her peers at smaller attractions, Gonzalez eventually made her way to the Scareatorium, where she met Newsome. Newsome introduced her to higher-quality, water-based makeup, and she went on to mentor under the more experienced effects artist for two years.

Photo: Brian Kaiser

Today, Gonzalez is the owner of Aftershock Art, a thriving face painting and body art company that operates year-round. She’s also found a healthy sideline doing moulage—the art of creating realistic, simulated injuries on actors during training exercises for the military and first responders.

Like her mentor, Gonzalez sees the past support and encouragement from members of the haunt community as a foundation of the success she now enjoys.

“It’s something that we’re all passionate about, so once you find your niche in that community, it doesn’t matter what your background is, what your religion is, what your sexual orientation is—you have that weird background, and you have a family for life,” Gonzalez explains.

While basking in the warm embrace of your fellow ghoul is reason enough to keep some hooked on this line of work, there’s another essential element that unifies all haunters: the love of the scare.

“I fell in love. I didn’t know you could have so much fun scaring people,” says Ashley Shilling, another former employee of Collins from the Sacreatorium days who today serves as general manager of the 13th Floor Haunt.

Ashley Shilling (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

“Being an actor is a huge stress relief,” Shilling explains. “Getting to scare people kicks in your endorphins, especially if you can make a big man that looks very intimidating scream like a little girl—that’s a lot of fun. At the end of the night, you’re just relaxed.”

Whether drawn to a sense of community that can sometimes be hard to find in the world at large, or simply in it for the thrill of scaring people, the haunting industry has an undeniable pull for those that find their way into its spooky ranks. Even retired industry veteran Collins is unable to fully step away from the work, and is gearing up for his first season as manager of a Spirit Halloween supply store in Newark, Ohio.

“When you scare people, and they scream and run away from you, it’s a great way to let out pent-up frustration,” Collins says. “You could have the worst day in the world, and within a few minutes of working at the haunted house, you feel so much better. It’s a great tension reliever.”

In professional haunting, one person’s fear is another’s bliss.

For more information on the 13th Floor Haunt and other haunted houses happening in October, click here.

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Photo Gallery: HighBall Halloween

614now Staff

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HighBall Halloween is the nation’s most elaborate costume party. Staged in the Art & Soul of Columbus, the annual event bridges runway style with the culture of the Short North Arts District.

Much like in years past, the city turned out in full force and full costume to celebrate fashion, fall, and fun with host Nina West.

Here's a look at some of the best looks of HighBall 2019:

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I Love My Job: CBJ national anthem singer Leo Welsh

Regina Fox

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Every day, people all around Columbus drive/ride/walk to their jobs, eager to contribute their passion and talent to the city. This series aims to highlight those people and give them a platform to spread their love for their careers. Welcome to I Love My Job.

You may not know his face (depending on your seats), but you definitely know his name: LEO! Longtime Columbus Blue Jackets national anthem singer Leo Welsh has been stealing the hearts of hockey-goers at Nationwide Arena with his impressive pipes and passion for the game since 2003.

Here is why he loves his job so much:

614: What do you love most about your job? 

LW: The thing I love most about my position with the CBJ is being such a fan and being part of the game experience. It is a total thrill every single time. 

614: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

LW: The most challenging part would have to be maintaining my health during the winter. Hard to sing well when you aren’t feeling your best. 

614: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

LW: The most rewarding aspect is when I am singing and I can see young people singing along to our National Anthem.

614: What’s the best story you have from your time with the Columbus Blue Jackets?

LW: So many great stories and interactions with fans and our military honorees. Most recently the playoffs from last year strand out. The CBJ had a World War II veteran on the ice with me every night. These men were all special and excited the crowd and made it very easy for me to be focused on honoring our country. Several were arm in arm with me and singing along to our National Anthem, very special moments. 

614: Who has been the most influential mentor in your career so far?

LW: I have had many great teachers and mentors. Maestro William Boggs stands out. He is one of the reasons I moved to Columbus following graduation from Ohio University. He offered me a job with Opera Columbus. He was critical when he needed to be, demanded preparation from his singers and was supportive by offering examples and best practices at all times. Truly a great mentor.

Leo will be leading players and fans in the national anthem this Friday as the Blue Jackets open their season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. Puck drops at 7pm.

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