County Courthouses Shine During the Holidays
Weeks before the big unveiling, electricians installed giant snowflakes and light strands to wrap the entire Licking County Courthouse in light for the holiday season.
Jay Barker, president of the Courthouse Lighting Committee, leads the community fundraising effort to continue the holiday tradition in downtown Newark.
“This year marks the 65th annual lighting of the courthouse here in Licking County at Christmas time,” Barker said. “The original lighting of the courthouse was just some clear strands of bulbs that came from the tower to the roof line. Then in 1949, the local merchants association led by the chamber leadership decided they could do something different – bring some colored lights in to the picture. From the beginning it was about bringing people together across the community into downtown Newark.”
He adds: “We get letters from people every year who come to courthouse lighting that came as little children, they’ve brought their children, and now they’re coming with grandchildren. And it’s about capturing that Americana, that spirit of the holiday season that brings people back.”
It’s a tradition shared by courthouses across Ohio.
Around the Guernsey County Courthouse are lifelike figures representing scenes from Victorian society. More than 44,000 lights strung on the front of the courthouse shine bright during the holiday season. They also keep pace to the beat of the music.
“They’re controlled by a computer. Four hundred sixty-nine separate circuits. There’s 56 minutes of music in every hour – all original, different,” according to Joel Losego of AVC Communications who coordinates the team that brings the show to life.
“We have 60 scenes in every window of the courthouse on the front face. We have lights that literally outline the courthouse from top to bottom including the clock tower; 38 high-intensity LED floods that could be made any color at any time,” Losego said.
Funded mostly by private donations, the light show draws in people by the busloads, and Losego says there’s been a positive economic impact on the businesses in downtown Cambridge. But he says the best part is the reaction from the crowd.
“It’s incredible to watch the kids dancing to the music and the adults tapping their feet and the folks that come back literally night after night to see the show.”
The Adams County Courthouse in West Union includes a 25 foot tree. Lights at Hardin County Courthouse in Kenton can be seen both early in the morning and in the evening. Downtown Logan, including the Hocking County Courthouse, is decked out for the holidays. And the fountain at the Ross County Courthouse in Chillicothe has been transformed into a tree. The glow and shimmer of the displays at the courthouses can be enjoyed through the first few days of the new year.