Byron Gunter has always been a holiday
light enthusiast. While most kids save their
allowance money for candy, toys, or new
clothes, Gunter saved his for Christmas lights.
“As a pre-teen, my display got so large it was
featured in the local paper, and the rest was
history,” he said.
It was an interest Gunter maintained into
adulthood and brought with him when he
moved to the Lucy Depp Park community in
Powell in 2014. “One of the largest factors in
buying my house was the ability to have a large
Christmas light show,” he said. When Kevin
Rhodus moved into the neighborhood a few
months later, one of their first conversations
was about the possibility of organizing a
large-scale holiday light show. “Kevin brought
the technical background needed to make it
happen, and here we stand today, with one
of the largest neighborhood light shows in
Central Ohio,” Gunter said. The show now
includes five neighboring houses over 7.5 acres
in the Lucy Depp Park community.
Gunter and Rhodus, along with their neighbor Dave Johnson, answered some questions for (614) about how to set up your own fabulous holiday light display, and how they are giving back to the community through their show.
(614): Tell us about your setup process. What
does it look like to organize this show?
BG: We start hanging lights in early September.
It takes over two months to get everything up.
There are over 200 trees, bushes, and props
that are each individually controlled. We lost
count of the exact number of strands a long
time ago. In addition to hanging lights, we have
to set up controllers, run data cabling, mount
antennas and get all the infrastructure in place
to make the show happen. There is a lot of
behind-the-scenes involved to get 7.5-acres to
all turn on and off at the same time.
(614): How do you organize the display across houses? Is the design collaborative, or does each house create its own display?
KR: Each year we have a dinner in early fall with all the families involved with the show to finalize our plans. Each house involved creates and hangs their own displays. Then we work collaboratively together to program it into one large continuous show.
(614): What is the process for programming your light show? Does the programming take the same amount of time every year?
KR: We start off programming the show by making our own soundtrack each year. We spend most of the spring and summer deciding what songs we want to use next year. From there, we use software to synchronize each tree to the soundtrack and create what is called a sequence. As we add more houses and more complex displays, the amount of time required grows exponentially. Last year it took approximately 80-100 hours to sequence the six-minute show. This year that number will increase a lot with all we added. Once the show is sequenced, we load it to multiple mini- computers (Raspberry Pi’s and Beaglebone’s) that control sections of the show and are tied together via a large network. We monitor everything connected to the network 24/7 and instantly get email alerts if any problems occur.
(614): How does the show change from year to year?
BG: Each year the show gets larger and larger. We have kept a tradition of adding another house (or more) every year. We also are constantly evolving our displays. For example, pixels allow us to control each individual bulb in a string of lights. We grew from just one pixel tree last year to wrapping over 100 trees in pixels this year.
(614): Last year, you collected donations at the show to raise money for a local charity. Are you planning to do so again this year?
DJ: For the second year in a row, we are raising money for Peace for Paws Ohio. This organization is very close to us, as my wife is the Medical Director and on the Board of Directors. Peace for Paws rescues pets from high kill shelters across the state of Ohio. Many of the pets in the neighborhood are rescues from Peace for Paws.
(614): How much was raised last year?
DJ: Last year we raised over $5,000 dollars for
Peace for Paws. The money went directly to
help with the vet bills for many dogs and cats
in their care.
(614): Do you have a sense of how many people visited?
DJ: We don’t have a final number but most nights we averaged somewhere between 200- 400 cars.
(614): What’s the cost of putting on this annual light show? Do you accept donations?
DJ: The cost of doing this is way more than our wives know. Almost all the lights are LED so there is very little increase to our electric bill. Almost all the cost is tied up in lights, extension cords, and controllers. Any donations we receive go to Peace for Paws.
(614): What’s an unexpected challenge you’ve experienced, and how did you overcome it?
BG: By far, traffic has been our largest unexpected challenge. We had no idea what the turnout would be the first year when we simply put out on Nextdoor that we were doing a light show. Within a day we had cars trying to go the opposite directions on one-lane roads and driving through yards to get around stopped cars. We quickly realized we needed to control the traffic and make the show one direction.
(614): What advice would you give to anyone who wants to elevate their holiday lights this year?
KR: Do it! There are tons of great online and local communities, [such as] Light Up Ohio, of Christmas light enthusiasts. It’s very easy to start with a small display and grow it each year. A lot of our fun we get out of doing the show is experimenting and trying new ideas each year.
(614): Anything you’d like to add?
DJ: We all got really lucky with the light show to be able to have a group of neighbors turn into a close group of friends. It has really brought our neighborhood together and gives us an amazing opportunity to give back to the surrounding communities.
This exchange has been lightly edited. For
times and directions to Lucy Depp Park,,
Tucked away on Worthington St. near Ohio State’s campus is a hidden gem awaiting your arrival. There are no bright neon signs attracting visitors from the streets, and the interior only holds three booths. In an age where Instagram aesthetics and social media presence dominates, Nile Vegan chose to focus on what’s really important: the food.
Nile Vegan is a new restaurant offering plant-based Ethiopian cuisine
created by chef and owner Siyum Tefera. The inspiration behind the
menu here is thanks to Tefera’s roots growing up in Ethiopia where he
lived until 2010 when he and his family made the move to Columbus.
Whether it’s the injera or the Shiro be Gomen—chickpea sauce with
stewed kale—these recipes come directly from Tefera’s time watching his
mother in the kitchen throughout his childhood. It’s this feeling of home
cooking combined with community that Tefera is hoping to build with
As mentioned previously, the interior of the restaurant is simple. It
feels somewhat like sitting in a dining room in your home with a kitchen
attached to it—this was intentional, too. Tefera said when he was younger,
he would sit in his dining room while his mother cooked meals and the
two would converse about life. He continued this ideal with the design of
the restaurant by keeping the kitchen area open and visible to customers.
When I ordered my meal and took a seat, I watched Tefera slice onions
and tomatoes that would eventually find their way into stews and sauces
on my plate. Not only does this provide the chance for customers to
interact with Tefera and his team, it’s also a bit of a flex. These folks aren’t
using frozen goods from giant grocery stores or mass creating food—they
are using fresh ingredients made to order.
The eating experience here is also twofold: it’s delicious, and fun to eat. Instead of forks, spoons, and knives on the table, your eating utensils are your hands. The injera—a sourdough risen flatbread—serves as a bed and sponge for scooping and soaking up the various sauces and stews.
And the options for sauces and stews
can range from mushroom stew to curried
vegetable medley featuring freshly chopped
cabbage, carrots and potato chunks stewed
in vegan butter, onion, garlic, and turmeric.
While most dishes are made on the mild side,
Tefera said he can make dishes more spicy, or
you can control your spicy adventure by adding
as much—or as little—berbere, a fiery bright
red seasoning, which is available on your table.
With winter on the horizon, trying Ethiopian food should be on everyone’s to-do list. The dishes are akin to comfort food, but on the non-traditional side. Instead of mashed potatoes and chicken noodle soup, it’s hearty portions of slow-cooked stews chock full of spices and seasonings. While you’re free to attack the menu as you see fit, I recommend bringing a friend and each ordering something different so you can share entrees. This gives you the chance to experiment with new flavors and options while also finding your menu favorite. If you ask Tefera, he recommends the Shiro, which is a slow-cooked chickpea sauce. And if you ask me, I’ll take three extra helpings of the Misir be Bamia—a stew featuring red lentils with okra.
But why plant-based? A cursory Google search shows a multitude of Ethiopian dishes where the main star is meat like Tibs—sauteed meat chunks, or Kitfo—Ethiopian beef tartar. For Tefera, it wasn’t so much adding a new vegan eatery to a growing list in the city, rather it was just a part of his lifestyle. He said he grew up eating mainly vegan, as Ethiopian traditions maintain ideals such as fasting on-and-off for nearly half the year. On those days, observants only eat one meal in the afternoon or evening and cut out all animal products. Choosing to stay vegan wasn’t so much of a concept as it was just what Tefera naturally knew.
Though Nile Vegan has only been open
since mid-October, Tefera already has his
eyes set on the future. First he said he wants
to better understand his customers and their
desires so he can serve them better. This
includes tweaking the menu options as well
as adding a few new ones such as an eggplant
stew. Additionally, he wants to change up the
interior of the restaurant. As of now, the three
booths that are available can be quickly filled
up, leaving patrons nowhere to sit. In the
future, expect more options for single eaters,
as well as a patio area once the weather warms.
For now, though, Tefera said he has been humbled by the amount of reception the restaurant has received. Beyond Tefera’s work, it’s been a family effort, as his mother can be found in the kitchen, cooking orders, conversing with her son, and serving as quality control. Hey, she did create these recipes, after all.
Nile Vegan is located on 1479 Worthington St. near Ohio State’s campus. For hours, operations, and more information, follow Nile Vegan at @nilevegan on Instagram.
It isn't deja vu. For the second time in a little more than one month, The Wilds is celebrating the arrival of a female white rhinoceros calf. The calf was born in the conservation center's large, heated rhino barn during the early morning hours of Friday, December 6, 2019.
This calf, who has been named “Bing” as recognition of donors Drs. Hetty and Arthur Bing, is the 22nd white rhino to be born at The Wilds.
“Each birth of a rhino here at The Wilds is an incredible achievement as all rhino species continue to face significant threats in their native range," said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds, in a statement. "Over the years, we have learned more about rhinos, contributed to scientific knowledge about them, and helped raise awareness to inspire people to take action to help protect them. Our work is not done! However, the birth of this rhino calf is certainly exciting as the calf represents hope for the future.”
Bing and her 10-year-old mother, Anan, who was also born at The Wilds, are doing well and continue to bond. Animal Management staff note that Anan, who has previously given birth to two other calves and is an experienced mother, is being very attentive to her newborn. This is the second offspring for Bing’s father, 21-year-old Kengele, who was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. His first calf, Scout, was born at The Wilds on October 23, 2019 to mother, Agnes.
Guests may have the opportunity to view Bing and Anan, along with the other rhinos, in the rhino barn during a Winter at The Wilds tour within the coming weeks. Tours are available at 11 AM and 2 PM through April. Reservations must be made at least 72 hours in advance. For more information, visit TheWilds.org.