By Judith Bratten
What is the best part of the Christmas holidays for you? Is it the excitement of giving and getting gifts? Is it the wonderful flavors of foods and beverages of the season? Is it the bright lights illuminating homes and streetscapes? Is it the delightful memories that the music, carols, and choruses of this special time recall for you? Or is it the general atmosphere of goodwill and hope?
All of these and more have made the holiday season an especially joyful time in Steubenville, Ohio, where Nutcrackers, model trains, StoryWalks, and glorious lights have made visiting the town a new holiday tradition.
Beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving, the historic downtown is transformed into the Steubenville Nutcracker Village, with over 180 life-sized Nutcrackers who inhabit the sidewalks, parks, and storefronts. Each unique Nutcracker, designed and produced by the local artisans at Nelson’s of Steubenville, depicts a character from history, literature, music, popular culture, or profession. Meet Rosie the Riveter, Jack Frost, and all the Rat Pack personalities while taking memorable selfies to send home. The Village sponsors a Children’s Corner, a WeinGarten, a Lantern Parade, a StoryWalk, and other events over five weeks.
To add to the celebration, on four weekend evenings there will be a light and music show on the Jefferson County Courthouse. Historic churches and buildings in town will light up for the season and offer special tours and concerts.
Historic Fort Steuben hosts Christmas at the Fort, with colorful walkways of light, music, Nutcrackers, and fairy tale figures leading up to the spectacular 32-foot Christmas Tree in Fort Steuben Park. The Advent Market, open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 26 to December 19, features decorated booths with vendors selling crafts, food, and Nutcracker souvenirs and choral groups filling the air with song.
The Holly Trolley carries passengers around the town to see the splendid churches and some of the 25 murals for which the city is famous. The reconstructed Fort Steuben is open for tours and the Christmas Shop in the Fort Steuben Visitor Center carries a variety of gifts, books, and mementoes of your visit.
The Model Railroad Display, located just a few blocks from the center of town, will be open on weekends presenting a massive, detailed exhibit of an industrial Ohio Valley landscape including bridges, factories, creeks, buildings, and mountains — finely detailed down to the junk in the railyards — with O-Gauge model trains clickety-clacking through it all.
For those who enjoy winter hikes, Beatty Park has trails through this historic nature preserve. A Christmas at the Park event on December 4 will include a Nativity, community choir, holiday hikes/rides to the old holiday-decorated stone lodge, campfires, and a blacksmith who will be sharing pioneer and historical stories. Earlier that day, the annual Eastern Gateway Community College Sights and Sounds of Christmas Parade will bring floats, marching bands, classic cars, and dance troupes down Fourth Street.
North Fourth Street is the place for shopping for gifts and souvenirs at Drosselmeyer’s Nutcracker Shoppe, locally roasted coffee at Leonardo’s Coffeehouse, treats from Steubenville Popcorn Company, new and used books from BookMarx, and specialty items from The Prodigal Daughter.
Are you ready to kindle the Christmas spirit? Go to www.VisitSteubenville.com for more information on schedules, lodging, and dining options during this magical time of year.
Kindle the Christmas Spirit in Steubenville