Lebanon, Ohio has the neatest Christmas celebration.
On the first Saturday of each December, they host an outdoor festival complete with live Christmas music, vendors and specials at some downtown businesses.
The highlight of the event is a pair of very special parades- a daytime parade and a candlelit night parade that both feature horses. There are no bands, floats or fire trucks – just horses pulling an assortment of wagons, sleighs, carts, Conestoga wagons and stage coaches. They have cute little ponies, majestic Clydesdales and everything in between.
It’s a sight to behold and I have wanted to go for sixteen years. Unfortunately a work commitment at a holiday event in my own hometown always prevented my participation – until this year, that is!
I spent Saturday roaming around town, browsing the shops and just soaking it all in. I spoke with a few locals including one woman who told me about the year Martha Stewart came to town and featured the parade on her show. She said it was always a great event but it really took off after receiving Martha’s unofficial seal of approval.
A lot of the participants go all out with decorating their wagons and dressing up the horses (and themselves) while playing recorded music. The sound of jingle bells could be heard all around too.
It’s just a fun, festive way to embrace the lighter side of the holiday season. Plus it’s free!
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about Christmas at nearby Clifton Mill. If you wanted to, you could squeeze both events into a day or maybe make it a weekend! Meanwhile, here are some parade photos!
If you go, the town has a ton of free parking but a high volume of festival goers can make parking a challenge. Some local organizations were selling parking for $10 so remember to take cash in case you need parking money. When I got there at 11 (the event started at 10:30 and the first parade wasn’t till 1), parking was already becoming an issue.
Also, lots of people put out their chairs early for the parade. You may want to do this to reserve yourself a front row seat. I opted to stand and managed to find a good spot but the parade was almost an hour long so a chair would have been nice.
This is a fun, festive environment where you see lots of people in their ugly Christmas sweaters, elf shoes and Santa hats so feel free to embrace your inner child and wear something Christmasy. Over the top will fit right in here!
Finally, remember that this is a busy, crowded event during peak hours. It’s also Christmas so chill, be kind to others and remember to just enjoy the hustle and bustle of the day. Seeing all those horses clop down the street will make it all worthwhile!
Check back tomorrow and we’ll go to Clifton Mill!