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City of Stars: Where to see the best holiday light displays

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Ah, wintertime. It brings frigid temperatures and an ever-blowing icy wind to Ohio, but it also gets people in the mood for the holidays—once the first snowfall arrives, everything becomes enchanting (as long as there isn’t ice). Cozily sitting at the fireside with a fresh cup of cocoa is a hard thing to beat, but what’s the next best thing? Holiday light displays! They’re joyful, colorful, and some even have animations or music paired with them. So grab your friends, family, and some mittens to go down this list of the best holiday light displays in Columbus.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – Wildlights

If you’ve never been to the Columbus Zoo—ever—you need to go around the holidays. Polar bears. Need I say more? In the warmer months you can visit all of the animals or cool off in the water park. Starting in mid- November, though, the zoo begins its annual Wildlights event. Lights and trees are put up all around the park; this includes music and shifting colors at different times, especially around the lake area. The Wildlights event also features a whole indoor display of Christmas movie clips and merchandise like Elf and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You can even meet “Rudolph” this year if you are feeling nostalgic.

German Village

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Who is ready for Village Lights tonight??

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Everyone already knows that German Village looks picturesque in the daytime—if you don’t know this, plan a trip to Schmidt’s immediately, because you’re missing out. German Village puts up beautiful lights each year in the wintertime, which usually consists of white icicles and string-light outlined architecture that looks like glowing gingerbread houses. The Book Loft looks especially cozy with its many windows full of books, and if you stop by the Fudge Haus near Schmidt’s, your holiday fantasy will truly be complete. These lights are best experienced walking around the village rather than driving through in my opinion; you can get a closer look inside and at peoples’ personal decoration styles. Happy dreaming!

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Conservatory Aglow – Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

If you’re looking for a great display but want to stay a bit warmer, head over to The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Their Conservatory Aglow holiday display features an interactive portion dubbed “The Pool” that is computerized and will glow wherever and whenever someone jumps on its pads. There is also a rainbow tunnel that will make for the perfect selfie or a cute photo for your Instagram feed. The Conservatory takes a unique approach because many of its displays are actually sculptures by artists (think Otherworld-esque). There is even a gingerbread competition that is put out for viewing, so if you are looking for gingerbread decorating ideas, look no further. This is a great chance to see art, plants, and the holidays come together—what could be better?

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights – Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds

You’ve probably driven around neighborhoods to see holiday lights in your car many times as a kid and as an adult, and this display aims to keep the classic trend going. Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights lets you drive around the Alum Creek State Park Campgrounds in your car to experience all of the amazing lights without breaking in your new snow boots. This is a great opportunity to carpool with a few friends for a fun midweek night out together, or make it a date night if your partner is crazy about the holidays; play “All I Want for Christmas is You” for the best potential results. Put a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate together with a few cookies to snack on—this will be a night to put your heart at ease.

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Throwback: 42nd anniversary of “Great Blizzard of 1978”

614now Staff

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It has been 42 years since the "Great Blizzard of 1978" that wrecked havoc through Ohio Valley and Great Lakes.

The storm on January 26, 1978 dumped huge amounts of snow—up to 15 feet drifts in some places—and blew at near-hurricane strength, leaving nearly $210 million in damage.

On the eve of the storm, the temperature in Columbus rose to 41 degrees and .65 inches of rain fell. But then, a system of arctic air came through, producing some of the lowest pressure readings ever recorded in the United States mainland that were not associated with hurricanes, reports 10TV.

Wind gusts averaged 50 to 60 mph during the day as wind chills dropped down to about -50 degrees.

Visibility was near zero which stopped traffic, planes, and left thousands of people stranded.

In the end, the storm claimed 70 lives—51 of them from here in Ohio. This is still the strongest storm in Ohio history.

See below for footage of the "Great Blizzard of 1978."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wxy-sO-z_E4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5QNMhM1gbo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gqncQHOxZE
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Brick by Brick: Lego popup bar is the ultimate nostalgia trip

614now Staff

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With playsets encompassing everything from Harry Potter to Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Legos remain a go-to for kids of all ages. Now, the colorful little blocks are preparing for their greatest team-up of all—with booze, of course!

A new popup event called "The Brick Bar" is bringing the fun of Legos to a bar near you for an exclusive 2-day engagement this March.

Bringing over 1 million blocks to the party, the event organizers will transform The Kitchen at 231 E Livingston Ave. with unique lego sculptures, as well as an abundance of blocks for people to shape into their own creations. Prizes for the best builders, DJs, and a ping-pong table (built entirely from Lego bricks, of course) are also in the mix for your nostalgia-driven enjoyment.

For ticket information, dates, and more, visit The Brick Bar Eventbrite page or follow them on Facebook.

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Hit Your Peak: 3 worth-the-drive ski slopes near Columbus

Asa Herron

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The cursed Ohio Winter Monster has made its presence known to all with its 5pm sunsets, snow storms, and seasonal depression for all. How are you going to fight back against the gloom this year? It may seem like it’s impossible to do fun things with your friends or to stay active in the winter, but I’m here to tell you that not all hope is lost. Finding a new hobby is a great way to kick your winter woes to the curb and start the new decade on a good foot.

Skiing can be a great way to casually exercise with friends and resuscitate your serotonin levels. Here are three high quality places to ski within driving distance of Columbus for you to check out.

MAD RIVER MOUNTAIN

Located in Zanesfield, Mad River Mountain is about an hour's drive northwest of Columbus. They have the most reasonable prices of all the nearby ski resorts. Plus, their on-property bar, The Loft, has 12 taps of craft beers on rotation to add a little more fun to the night. Mad River is open until 1 a.m. on Fridays, too, so you’re getting a full Friday night of flurries.

Mad River is home to over 20 trails (spanning 3.9 miles) and four terrain parks making it the largest ski resort in Ohio. They also bolster ten ski lifts (the most in Ohio) and are tied with Snowtrails for the largest vertical drop in the state with their 300 foot slope. An added perk of Mad River is that they just built a new $6.2 million facility in 2016 to replace the space they lost to a fire in 2015. Plus, most of their trails are designated “easy” difficulty. Mad River has everything you need to have a relaxing, affordable day of skiing.

Details on hours and pricing can be found at www.skimadriver.com.

SNOWTRAILS

Founded in 1961, Snowtrails is Ohio’s oldest ski resort. It is located in Mansfield, so also about an hour drive north. This resort is only slightly more expensive, with lift rates starting at $31 for midweek evenings and $52 for all-day on the weekends, with skis, boots, and pole rentals are $37. If there’s one day this month that you visit Snowtrails, let it be January 25 for their mid-season party. Get ready for an outdoor DJ, a custom built snowbar, and a fireworks show 30 minutes after the slopes close for the night. Not into skiing? No problem! The party is free and open to the public, so let your expert friends hit the slopes while you hit the spirits at the snow bar.

Snowtrails is the second largest resort in the state with six ski lifts and 3.3 miles of trails. The majority of their trails are designated “intermediate” difficulty, so more experienced skiers will enjoy their time here.

More information can be found at www. snowtrails.com.

BOSTON MILLS & BRANDYWINE

Boston Mills & Brandywine is the farthest ski resort from Columbus on this list, but great for a full weekend away. This quaint resort is in Peninsula, OH is a two hour drive from Central Ohio. Their pricing is $40 after 3:30 p.m. and $45 for an all-day pass. Staying another night? Come back on Saturday for $5 Late Nights admission from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM.

Boston Mill & Brandywine ski resort is known for being especially conducive to beginning skiers. They offer high quality lessons and will walk you through the process. This is the place to go if you have “stupid” questions about skiing, or just want to tube. However, they also appeal to veteran skiers as the majority of their 18 trails are designated “advanced”. Despite the high quantity of trails, this resort is much smaller than the other two, with only 1.2 miles of skiable trails, and their largest vertical drop being 264 feet. But for these prices? Could definitely be worth the trip.

Learn more about Boston Mills & Brandywine at www.bmbw.com.

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