Did It Again

dav5k2014_01I have now participated in every one of the Cincinnati DAV 5K events. All two of them. Entries were up a little in the second 5K Run/Walk/Roll/Ride and it now has a companion event in San Diego. Cincinnati’s second DAV 5K took place yesterday, November 8. San Diego’s inaugural DAV 5K is scheduled for today, November 9.

dav5k2014_02dav5k2014_03This year, a long line of motorcycles roared past the waiting runners and walkers a few minutes before the starting gun was fired. Most, if not all, were ridden by veterans most of who would park their bikes and stand near the end of the course to cheer and thank those on foot.

dav5k2014_05dav5k2014_04As I did last year, I started (and finished) near the back of the pack. This year, however, I was alone. Dave, who had sort of recruited me for the first event, was on his way to Akron. A couple of weeks ago, when we last spoke, Dave told me he would be dashing off to something as soon as the walk was over and that it would be best if we drove separately. I sent a text when I left home to start coordinating a starting-line hook-up only to learn that he had forgotten the walk and had started his dashing early. I was left all alone except for the couple of thousand runners and walkers surrounding me.

dav5k2014_06As expected, those bike riding veterans were lined up near the finish encouraging and thanking everyone that passed by. As I explained last year, I walk similar distances often enough that I didn’t really need the encouragement but I still appreciated it and, even more so, the shouted “Thank you”s. I exchanged hand slaps and thanks with many of those standing by the road. But there were several people, especially in the trailing part of the herd I traveled with, who no doubt welcomed and benefited from the words of encouragement as well as the cheers. Quite a few people were pushing wheelchairs or strollers or walking with a cane and for them a 5K outing was far from easy. Those people were not, incidentally, all behind me.

dav5k2014_07There were 2147 people who crossed the finish line this year compared to last year’s 2035. A fellow in a hand-cycle covered the course in 14:01. The fastest runner did it in 17:14. I did it in 1:08:29. That’s a little quicker than last year’s 1:12:41 but I can explain. Part of the difference is that it was noticeably colder than last year and I was probably moving a little faster. But I have little doubt that the main reason for the more than four minute difference was that Dave wasn’t there setting the pace and giving me the proper motivation. There were almost forty people behind me this year. I can do better.

dav5k2014_09dav5k2014_08The brief closing ceremonies included a few awards and some words from DAV National Commander Ronald Hope. Bigger — and no doubt warmer — post-race celebrations immediately followed with different Banks area bars set aside for “reunions” of the various branches of the military. This draft dodger slipped away feeling a little better about myself and with a deep appreciation for our veterans.

Trip Peek #25
Trip #59
Thanksgiving 2007

pv42This picture is from my 2007 Thanksgiving weekend trip to Nashville, Tennessee. This outing actually started with a ferry ride across the Ohio River and visits to a few spots in Kentucky including the Jefferson Davis Monument. In Nashville, I took in shows at both the Ryman and the Bluebird and ate breakfast at both the Loveless and the Pancake Pantry. I also visited two car museums on the trip but only one, Lane, was in Nashville. The other was the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where I stopped on the way home. The photo is of the Bellsouth Tower (a.k.a. “Batman Building”) taken through a large ring gear displayed in a park across the Cumberland River.

Oops! (6-Sep-14) Part way through a road trip, I realized that I did not have enough posts in the queue to cover the trip. The random trip selector came up with the 2007 Thanksgiving trip and I hastily put a post together in a motel room. But once I was home and able to pay a little more attention to what I was doing, I discovered that this had already been posted as a Trip Peek in June, 2013. At least my descriptions were similar.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Trip Peek #24
Trip #44
Labor Day Loop

pv29This picture is from my 2006 Labor Day Loop trip through southern Ohio. I started out tracing the Ohio River eastward to meet some friends in Portsmouth. From there, we visited a couple of blast furnace sites from the Ohio Valley’s heyday as an iron producer. The photo is of the completely restored Buckeye Furnace. Little remains at most sites beyond a stone chimney if that.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Must Be the Season of the Fish

Back in 2011, while traveling in northern Ohio during the month of March, it occurred to me that checking out a Lenten fish fry might be a nice break from eating at establishments practicing commercialism full time. It was and I’ve made a habit of patronizing such operations ever since. This year, for what I believe is the first time, I managed to eat at a Friday Fish Fry during every week of Lent and here they are.

Woodlawn Firefighters Association Fish FryWoodlawn Firefighters Association Fish FryThe first Friday of Lent coincided with the start of Bockfest. I’m thinking that might not be a coincidence but don’t really know. Since the Bockfest Parade was firmly on my schedule, I opted for one of the few fish fries serving in the afternoon. As it turned out, a downtown church operated their fish fry more or less in conjunction with the festival and I could have combined the two but didn’t realize that until it was too late. While I ate my dinner at the Woodlawn Firefighters Association Fish Fry, a large ambulance and a smaller fire truck sitting next the truck in the picture went speeding off to answer a call.

St. John the Evangelist Fish FrySt. John the Evangelist Fish FryThe second week I left home for something some distance away but changed my mind as soon as I pulled into traffic. Congestion prompted me to head for the reasonably near St. John the Evangelist Church in West Chester. I chose the sampler which got me some fried shrimp, a crab cake, and baked fish. I could have had fried fish with my sampler or I could have had just fish, baked or fried. I also could have had pizza. For crying out loud! Pizza? I suppose you could claim that things started down the slippery slope when they started offering non-fried (i.e., baked, grilled, broiled) fish at functions called “Fish Fries” but, to me, at least, that seems to be much more in keeping with the spirit of things than pizza. At least it was cheese pizza which is in line with the “meatless Fridays” concept on which this whole fish fry business is built.

Saint Colman of Cloyne Fish FrySaint Colman of Cloyne Fish FOn week three I drove to Wilmington to meet my friend John with intentions of taking in a fish fry in Lebanon on the way home. When the conversation turned to my fish fry plans, mention was made of very popular one in Washington Court House. Wilmington is roughly midway between my home and Washington Court House which meant that, while it was still several miles away, I was the closest I was likely to be during serving time. I made it to the Saint Colman of Cloyne church with about fifteen minutes to spare. John thought the fry’s fame and popularity came from an abundance of walleye parishioners brought back from the Great Lakes. While that may have once been the case, the big draw currently, in addition to it being an all-you-can-eat affair, is pollock. Apparently it is such a big part of the attraction that they preempt  confrontations when they run out by posting the news on the main entry door. The “Sorry, we’re out of pollock” sign was displayed when I arrived and apparently had been for awhile. The cashier reiterated the absence of pollock and suggested I check out remaining offerings before paying then charged me $5 rather than the advertised $8. All that and a cupcake, too.

St Francis of Assisi Fish FrySt Francis of Assisi Fish FryI would be spending week four’s Friday in Ann Arbor, MI, which meant a little extra research but it sure worked out well. I picked a fish fry within walking distance of my motel for its convenience and lucked into an excellent meal. That salad is from a salad bar. At $2, the add-on clam chowder was a real bargain. There is baked tilapia, mac & cheese, new potatoes, and green beans on the big plate and it was all delicious. And that includes the beans which, unlike the overcooked mush that is all too common, actually had a nice snap. St Francis of Assisi has the best fish fry in the entire state of Michigan AFAIK.

St Columbkille Fish FrySt Columbkille Fish FryWeek five found me back in Wilmington for birthday eve drinks with buddy John which led to this year’s only repeat, St Columbkille. Baked tilapia was on the menu but was at least temporarily in short supply and its consumption was ever so slightly being discouraged. I didn’t mind a bit and enjoyed a more traditional fish fry meal of cod that was actually fried. Cherry pie included.

St Veronica Fish FrySt Veronica Fish FryThis is where I was headed on week number two when the traffic caused me to reconsider. St Veronica is just down the road from Mt Carmel Brewery where I had intended to stop after dinner. Since then, I learned that the taproom now opens at noon on Fridays so I left home earlier, avoided the traffic, and visited the taproom before dinner. This was a good meal and I’m happy that clam chowder is starting to show up more and more. Also showing up more and more are non-fish items like pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. I believe I actually saw grilled ham & cheese on the menu here but I’ve got no proof so maybe I imagined it. I’d like to think that’t the case.

Knights of Columbus 3908 Fish FryKnights of Columbus 3908 Fish FryPlans with friends meant I couldn’t make a Good Friday fish fry for dinner but I found one that fit my schedule. Lunch at the Knights of Columbus in Erlanger was my only fish fry outing in Kentucky this year although I’ve gone to other locations in the state in the past. Their dinner menu is pretty complete with baked and fried fish along with shrimp, chicken!, and hamburgers!!. The only thing on the lunch menu is the sandwich in the picture but it’s a pretty good sandwich that comes with french fries and hush-puppies for a mere $5. I asked about those Lenten hamburgers and was told they don’t sell many. Maybe one a week to some youngster. Chicken nuggets, however, move rather well. But fish fries aren’t restricted to Lent for this particular K of C council. In addition to being held every Friday during Lent, they hold a fish fry on the first Friday of every month during the rest of the year. Non-Lenten hamburgers sell really well.

Trip Peek #17
Trip #81
US 62’s West End

Cherokee Christmas greetingThis picture is from the my 2009 US 62’s West End road trip. This was my first Christmas Escape Run after retiring and only my second road trip without a schedule dictated by a need to get back to the job. Completing my coverage of US 62 by following it to El Paso Texas had been high on my to-do list for so long that it was almost an automatic pick once time permitted. My typical Christmas break had been nine days; A five day work week bracketed by two weekends. This trip consumed fifteen days including a one day “snow delay” in Altus, Oklahoma. Throwing an extra day into the middle of a trip might have been a real calamity in the past but was hardly an issue for a man no longer employed. Highlights of the trip included visits to Carlsbad Caverns and to the graves of both Buddy Holly and Geronimo. The picture was taken in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation and the picture is of the words “Merry Christmas” in Cherokee.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

HBW2Me

Arnold'sHappy Birth Week to Me. A week that ends on Saturday has to start on Sunday but not much happened Sunday. Monday, however, was a different story. It was Opening Day. With temperatures climbing into the sixties, it was a fine day to start the Reds’ season and really get my birth week rolling. I often visit Arnold’s after the Opening Day Parade but this year decided to start my day there when I learned that Cincinnati’s oldest bar would be tapping several unusual beers at 9:00 and serving breakfast from 9:00 to 11:00. I passed on the early morning beer but did enjoy breakfast in what I believe is Arnold’s only window seat.

Arnold's Opening Day Menuodp2014eArnold’s normally opens at 11:00 with lunch as the first meal of the day. The special breakfast menu was short. Kids under five could have scrambled eggs. Adults had three choices none of which appear on the menu at IHOP. There were hot dogs, for those wanting to get an early start on the ball park diet plus Sausage Gravy Bread Pudding and Geotta Hot Brown. I decided that the Geotta Hot Brown was the most “Cincinnati” of the choices plus, as you can see by the picture, it’s just the thing if you’re planning on running the bases several times later in the day. As I was leaving, sometime after 10:00, I heard a waitress telling new arrivals that the goetta supply had been depleted and that ham was now being substituted. Bummer but technically not a violation of Porkopolis guidelines.

odp201404odp201403odp201402I reached the parade’s Findlay Market starting point well before the noon step-off and was working my way back along the parade route when things began to roll. I was not at a very good vantage point when Grand Marshall Dave Concepción came by but managed an only partially obscured picture. The scene in the last picture is an unusual one. Because of street car construction, the parade, which usually runs straight down Race Street, detoured over to Elm for several blocks which took it right by Music Hall. It is expected to be back on Race next year.

I am aware of a campaign to make opening day a national holiday (or maybe — it is organized by Budweiser — it’s a campaign to sell beer) but I don’t see that happening. The fact that not all teams open the same day is just one of the details bedeviling the idea. It is really immaterial to Cincinnatians since opening day has been a de facto holiday here for decades. Sometimes Reds opening day and my birthday actually do coincide as they did in 2012 when I wrote a little more about opening day history.

The PrecinctSteak Collinsworth at the PrecinctTuesday was nice but windy. As I ate lunch on the patio of a local pizzeria, a strong gust lifted the large umbrella standing unopened in the center of the table and tried to drop it on my head. It missed. Rain arrived Wednesday afternoon but I got in about a 6K walk before it hit. Six kilometers isn’t all that much when there is a bar and a meal at the turnaround point. On Thursday, I bought myself a birthday present and ate it. I finally made it to the Precinct where I devoured what might have been the best steak I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. The only possible exception is a filet I ate at the Pine Club in Dayton but it is only a possibility. More research is needed.

Good times continued on Friday with a few drinks with buddy John in Wilmington and a continuation of this year’s fish fry streak at Saint Columbkille.

On Saturday, my actual birthday, I had to work. Well, maybe not exactly work. OK, not even remotely work. It did, however, involve just about the only thing I do on a regular schedule, live trivia. The team once again qualified for the semi-finals which took place at noon. I really intended to get a picture to include in this post but completely forgot in the heat of competition. The top five teams move on to the finals. We tied for sixth.

Flipdaddy'sGraeter'sSkyline ChiliMy plans for the rest of the day centered around doing nothing. It was a beautiful day, however, with temperature in the fifties so, as soon as I got home, I headed out for a walk. Within a few steps, I came to the realization that I could continue the celebration and not leave the neighborhood. Not only did I personally stay close to home, there’s hope that some of the money I spent will stay nearby as well. I made three stops and all were at regional chains based in Cincinnati. I started with a 4-way at Skyline, had Chocolate Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip for dessert at Graeter’s, then washed it all down with Mount Carmel Amber Ale at Flipdaddy’s. A birthday that was good to the last drop.

Is Paddy Out Of Step?

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeCincinnati’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade has never been about precision marching. Oh, there are pipe & drum corps that step quite sharply and high school band directors who try to get their charges to all put their left foot forward at the same time but the general atmosphere has typically been one of slightly sloppy fun rather than of practiced drills. Now, however, the parade itself seems to be out of step with most of the country.

Last year Cincinnati made discrimination illegal at any event receiving financial support from the city but it also stopped the practice of absorbing much of the cost (police, cleanup, etc.) associated with the parade. One result was that the local chapter of the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) had their application to participate in the parade denied. There were claims that the denial was due to the group failing to follow rules when they marched in the previous year’s parade but the violations were never exactly specified and not many are buying into the claim. A direct result of the application’s rejection was the boycotting of the parade by several officials and politicians who were scheduled to be part of it.

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeThis year the Cincinnati St. Patrick Parade Committee denied no applications and no politicians boycotted the parade. Reverting to what they had done sometime in the past, the committee accepted no applications and the parade was filled by invitation only. Other cities weren’t so clever. Organizers of the Boston parade turned down an application from a gay rights group named MassEquality and that led to a boycott by the city’s mayor and a number of other politicians. It also prompted Boston Beer Company, which operates brewing facilities in Cincinnati, to withdraw sponsorship for the parade. For similar reasons, Heineken dropped its sponsorship of New York City’s parade which was also boycotted by the mayor. Cincinnati’s preemptive “you can’t boycott ’cause you’re not invited” move did keep protesters at Saturday’s parade to a quiet and well behaved few. It also caused at least one parade goer to think about the whole Saint Patrick’s Day thing in a different way than ever before.

I first likened the recent events to some sort of bait and switch but soon realized it’s not like that at all. The parade organizers did not create some bit of revelry then take it away. In Cincinnati, the parade has always officially been a “religious procession”. It was the attendees who created the “everybody’s Irish” and, without actually saying it, “everybody’s Catholic” lore. I’m undecided but maybe, if the Catholics simply want their parade back, I’ll let them have it. I’ve a year to decide.

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeCincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeCincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeThis year’s parade had all the normal entries including the statue of Saint Patrick borrowed from some church. It also had really nice weather which is not always the case.

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeCincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeI grabbed a couple of overhead shots from atop the same garage as last year. The second picture is of the Pedal Wagon, a human powered arrangement of mobile bar stools. It can be rented by anyone wanting to put the “crawl” back in pub crawl.

Cincinnati St Patrick's Day ParadeThe reviewing stand was near the end of the parade route and that’s where I caught the Delorean Club of Ohio. I counted fifteen cars this year. There are other Saint Patrick’s Day parades in Ohio, including one in a city named Dublin, but Cincinnati is where the state’s population of these Irish built cars come to show off. That has to be an endorsement of some sort.


AHA Heart MiniAHA Heart MiniAHA Heart MiniThe parade was Saturday. I was back downtown on Sunday for the American Heart Association Heart Mini consisting of a 1/2 marathon and several other events. One of those other events was a 10 K walk which I participated in. From near Fountain Square, we walked east on 5th Street  continued on Columbia Parkway, then turned around and walked back.

AHA Heart MiniAHA Heart MiniAHA Heart Mini10K is about six miles which put the turnaround about three miles east of the heart of the city. A 5K walk started at the same time so things were pretty crowded leaving downtown. 5K walkers were definitly in the majority and things thinned out quite a bit at their turnaround about a mile and a half out. I started near the middle but was very near the back at the finish. I typically walk around 3 MPH and that’s about what I did Sunday finishing in slightly over two hours. Most people obviously moved a little faster than that.

Concert Review
Willie Nile
Southgate House Revival

Willie NileWhen Willie Nile‘s American Ride appeared on my road trip oriented radar last spring, I thought his name sounded vaguely familiar but couldn’t really connect it with anything. When I later heard a tune, Vagabond Moon, from his 1980 debut album, it, too, sounded vaguely familiar. I probably did hear both the name and the music thirty years ago but I didn’t hear it enough or pay enough attention for it to stick with me. I’m now realizing that I am certainly the poorer for that and I’m learning that I’m not alone.

I was pretty happy when I first learned that Willie was coming to the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky. Then, when I found out it would be on Groundhog Day Eve and my plans for the holiday started to form, Willie’s concert got pushed aside. I intended to visit a friend in northern Illinois where another Willie, a groundhog named Woodstock Willie, is the focus of a pretty good party in the town where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed. Then weather forecasts, which turned out to be rather accurate, called for several inches of snow in Illinois and I decided to stay in Ohio which meant I could make the concert and that was a very good thing.

Even after the event was firmly on my agenda, I had no idea that it would compel me to post my first actual concert review. I didn’t have a camera with me and, though I could have tried to grab something with my phone, I did not and resorted to a stock publicity shot to start this post. Fortunately, Kirsten O’Connell shared this photo of the show on Willie’s Facebook page so you can get a glimpse of how things looked.

Thinking I would not be be going, I did no research and had no idea what to expect. I thought it quite possible that it would be a solo show with just Willie and a guitar. Boy, was that ever wrong. Willie took the stage with a topnotch high-powered 4-piece that blew me and the rest of the packed Revival Room away.

There are three performance spaces at SGHR. The Sanctuary is the biggest and there is a stage in the smallish Lounge. The Revival Room is a mid-sized place on the second floor. Yes, SGHR is a re-purposed church; the 1866 Grace Methodist Episcopal Church. How they resisted calling the upstairs venue The Upper Room, I’ll never know. I’ve seen a few shows in the Sanctuary and a couple in the Lounge. This was my first time in the Revival Room and it instantly became my favorite. It held forty-eight folding chairs. There would have been fifty but the middle of five rows was truncated by support posts. Every seat was filled and another thirty or so people stood at the back and along the walls.

The show was riveting from beginning to end. Despite never having seen Willie Nile before and knowing only a few of the songs, I felt right at home. There was a touch of Springsteen and Dylan and Grahm Parker and Lou Reed and Elvis Costello and other rock ‘n’ rollers I can’t exactly name. But it was all Willie Nile. Willie doesn’t bring to mind first tier singer-songwriters because he mimics them but because he is one.

The band was top tier, too. I believe Alex Alexander, who played drums on the American Ride album, has been touring with the group but Larry the Chicago Guy (Sorry, forgot the last name.) is wielding the sticks for a few shows. If that subtracted anything from the performance, it’s hard to imagine what. The group was tight and professional. Matt Hogan’s guitar solos were impressive without being over indulgent and bassist Johnny Pisano got in his own share of fancy licks — and leaps. Hogan and Pisano both appear on American Ride. In addition to looking good and sounding great, it was obvious that all four musicians were enjoying themselves to the max. Nothing impresses me more than an entertainer having fun while delivering quality.

Things mellowed briefly when Willie sat down at an electric piano — after they found the plug — and the band left the stage. The piano is Willie’s first instrument. He performed The Crossing solo then moved onto Love is a Train. One by one, the others returned as the song progressed and before long the train was a rockin’. Apparently a song and a half of mellow is enough for Willie. Other songs I remember were three dedications to musicians the world lost quite recently. Heaven Help The Lonely was dedicated to Phil Everly, One Guitar to Pete Seeger, and a rousing version of Sweet Jane was dedicated to the man who wrote it, Lou Reed. Surprisingly, he did not play American Ride and I did not miss it and I mean that both it not being played and me not missing it were surprises. I don’t mean that I did not notice its absence; I mean that the concert seemed full and complete and satisfying without it.

Early on, Willie let it be known that he thought SGHR was a pretty cool place. He also talked of it being his first time in Kentucky until a fan in the front row reminded him of his 1980 gig opening for The Who in Lexington. Willie smiled at the correction and said he intended to be back again before long. I believe him and I’ll be waiting.


I learned of the song American Ride, first on the radio then in this video, in the week preceding the start of my Lincoln Highway centennial drive. The album had not yet been released but the title song was available as a 99 cent download. I bought the song and had thoughts of it playing as we departed Times Square. I failed at making that happen but, at 7:23 AM on June 22, as we were leaving Manhattan, I did send the following pre-written Tweet:

Leaving New York City with a tank of gas.
Got my bag and my camera, I’m gonna get out fast.

The album was released June 25.

Trip Peek #15
Trip #83
Groundhog Day 2010

Punxsutawney PhilThis picture is from the my 2010 Groundhog Day road trip to see Punxsutawney Phil. I guess this was something of a bucket list item I crossed off on my first February in retirement. On the way, I stopped in Columbus, Ohio, to attend a blues benefit and I worked in some National Road on the way home. In between, I sipped coffee and stamped my feet on Gobbler’s Knob in an effort to stay warm in four degrees while waiting for sunrise. The big moment came, Phil saw his shadow (though I didn’t see mine), and the 10,000+ crowd moaned in unison.

This is the second Trip Pic Peek that I’ve cheated on and did not go with a random selection. The other was Crescent City Christmas that I hand picked for Christmas 2012. When I realized that I would probably be posting something canned this week and that Sunday was actually Groundhog Day, this Trip Pic Peek just seemed right.

Trip Pic Peek # 14 — Trip #31 — OH Lincoln


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Cincinnati Christmas Traditions

Among the many interesting pieces of information presented in Cincinnati Museum Center‘s most recent Brown Bag Lecture, “Cincinnati’s Winter Holiday Traditions”, was a listing of the city’s four oldest Christmas traditions.

cintrad014. Duke Energy Holiday Trains – 1946
Duke Energy gave its name to the trains in 2006 when it bought Cinergy Corporation. In 2011, it gave the trains to the museum. Before Cinergy was formed in 1994, the company name was Cincinnati Gas & Electric so these trains spent most of their lives as the CG&E trains and that is still how many people think of them.

cintrad03cintrad02The O gauge layout was originally constructed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as a training tool just prior to World War II. It came to Cincinnati in 1946 and for years was displayed in CG&E’s lobby each Christmas season. Today it is the centerpiece of the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Holiday Junction which includes several other model trains, the “Toys through Time” exhibit, Grif Teller railroad paintings, and more. Kids can ride a train or have a conversation with Patter & Pogie, the talking — and listening — reindeer who were a long time Christmas fixture at Pogue’s department store.

Holiday Junction and the Duke Energy Holiday Trains are are inside the fee required museum but free passes are available to all Duke Energy customers.

cintrad113. Boar’s Head Festival – 1940
I have never attended the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival and I won’t again this year. Tickets for the free event go fast and those for this year’s festival have long been gone. The first Boar’s Head Festival took place in Oxford, England, in 1340 which means it had been going on exactly 600 years when Cincinnati’s Christ Church Cathedral held its first. The locals have now added 70+ years of their own traditions to establish a unique event for the city. I confess to not even knowing of the festival before the lecture but, the more I learn about it, the more I want to go. There are three performances on January 4 and 5. Tickets were distributed, first-come, first-served, on December 14. Maybe I can snag one of those hot ducats next year.

cintrad212. W & S Nativity Scene – 1939
Officially known as Western & Southern Financial Group presents the Crib of the Nativity, this Cincinnati tradition has one year on the Boar’s Head Festival. Western & Southern’s President, Charles F. Williams, had the crib built in 1938 for display in the company’s parking lot. It went public and started the tradition during the very next Christmas season. Initially displayed in downtown’s Lytle Park, it was moved to Union Terminal after the country’s entry into World War II in 1941. It stayed there, a welcome sight to the train loads of GIs who passed through the station, until the war was over. It returned to Lytle Park in 1946.

cintrad22cintrad23With the upheaval and shrinking of Lytle Park that came with the construction of I-71, the nativity scene moved to Eden Park in 1967. It remains there, next to Krohn Conservatory, today.

cintrad26cintrad25cintrad24Parking and visiting the outdoor nativity scene is free. Entering the conservatory is not. The conservatory’s Christmas display is not one of Cincinnati’s oldest but it is one of its most beautiful. If you have parked to visit the nativity scene, you should at least consider spending the $7 to see “A Cincinnati Scenic Railway”, a ton of poinsettias, and other holiday themed displays. The railway incorporates “botanical architecture” which uses “locally gathered willow and other natural materials” to build structures such as the Roebling Bridge, the Tyler Davidson Fountain, and the Christian Moerlein Lager House..

cintrad311. Fountain Square Tree – 1913/1924
According to the “Cincinnati’s Winter Holiday Traditions” lecture, Cincinnatians first put a tree on Fountain Square in 1913. A large crowd had gathered for the ceremonial lighting when someone yelled “fire” and the resulting stampede caused enough injuries to keep the city from trying again until 1924. Things went much better that year and, although the fountain and the square have moved around some, a Christmas tree has stood on Fountain Square every year since.

cintrad32cintrad33cintrad34There was a snag this year when the first tree selected snapped in two at a weak spot in its trunk. A replacement was quickly obtained and the 55-foot Norway Spruce was placed on the square after a one week delay.