A Long Time Ago…There Was Midnight Madness!

Nobody’s sure when it started, but everyone agrees it has been going on for a long time. Not as far back as the Whiskey Wars, but certainly 1984 Midnight Madness in Uptown Westervillebefore there were 4th Fridays, there was Midnight Madness.

The Westerville Local History Archives have this photo from 1984 showing Nancy Wasserman, owner of Uptown business, The Difference, with customer Mimi Gresler at 1984’s Midnight Madness. That’s at least 32 years that the Westerville Uptown Merchants’ Association has been showcasing the 2009-north-state-stshops in Uptown during the Halloween season. At the very least, that’s parents, kids and grandkids who have roamed the Uptown streets in costumes, participating in various contests, enjoying fun decoration and taking advantage of sales offered by the many merchants who have called Uptown home through the years.

The other photos, from 2009 and 2010, respectively, show some of the good times had when the leaves are down and sky is dark in Uptown.

You’ll hear the clip-clip of hooves again2010nightwalkuptown this year, as WUMA offers free horse-drawn wagon rides. You’ll see shop windows with decorations both spooky and whimsical and you’ll be able to bring your lawn chairs and blankets to watch family-friendly movies at Westerville Automotive on E. Main St.

Will there be candy? Yes. Will it be cold? Maybe. Will you make memories? Definitely.


Westerville/Civil War-Era Music Forever Linked

As soon as the trick-or-treaters go home on October 31st (and maybe Home of Bishop William Hanby, Abolitionist, Underground Railroad "Conductor" and his son, Benjamin Hanby, who wrote the Christmas favorite, "Up On The Housetip."even before), you’ll begin to hear Christmas songs on the radio and in the malls. Each song as its own unique story. If you’ve been to Westerville and especially if you live here, you most likely know who wrote the song “Up On the Housetop.” His name was Benjamin Hanby. But did you know that Ben penned more than just this Christmas favorite?

Here’s an excerpt from www.hanbyhouse.org:
Bishop and Ann’s oldest child, Benjamin Russel Hanby, was in the second graduating class of Otterbein University in 1858. He was a United Brethren preacher, a teacher, an abolitionist and a composer. During his short life, he composed over 80 songs including Darling Nelly Gray, Up on the Housetop, and Who is He in Yonder Stall? The latter is included in the current United Methodist Hymnal.

You may not be familiar with Ben’s catalog, but people of his day would have certainly recognized many of his melodies.

On Saturday, October 22nd, you can enjoy an afternoon full of Civil War music to benefit Ben’s Westerville residence, The Hanby House Historic Site. The songs, written about or by women during the Civil War period, will be presented by Columbus musicians Steve and Lisa Ball. Not only will the lyrics and the harmonies take you back 150 years, the guitar Steve plays is a Civil-War era Martin!

All proceeds from this concert will help support the programming and educational efforts of Hanby House. For more information about Hanby House and how to order advance tickets for the concert, visit the Hanby House website.

4th Friday Season Ends on a Warm Note

Nowhere was there a hint of autumn during Mount Carmel St. Ann’s 4th Friday: Fall Fest, held September 23rd in Uptown Westerville. As if our attendees had ordered an extension of summer, our temperatures were in the 80s and the crowds were large and full of excitement. Then the reality of the season dropped like a theater’s curtain after the finale. It got dark. Early.

And now the 2016 season of MCSA’s 4th Fridays is in the books. It could not have filled Uptown with fun if it were not for Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital, the City of Westerville, AAA Ohio Auto Club and the Arts Council of Westerville. The Westerville Uptown Merchants Association and the Westerville Bike Club  were also key players in bringing this event to the community April through September.

We can’t forget Heartland Bank, Westerville Public  Library, Amish Originals Furniture Co. Westerville Parks and Rec and the Westerville Puppet Posse (led by Mrs. Winnie Maze). Their support helps the WVCB offer activities that appeal to kids.

In addition, there are at least a dozen individuals who have given of their time to assist the WVCB staff in the planning and execution of these six events. To these folks and the groups mentioned above: Thank you for supporting 4th Fridays!

As you bring out the sweaters, rake leaves and hang holiday lights, the WVCB staff will be working with our partners to plan 4th Friday events for 2017. Stay tuned and have a happy fall!

Too Important to Forget

Your grandparents or great-grandparents, at one time or another, probably tied a string around his or her finger to remind them of something they didn’t want to forget. The website SuperBeefy.com says,

“This is a carry-over from olden days when people tied pieces of cloth around any painful part of their body. This cloth was tied in one area to keep the “spirit of life” in that area, and so cure it and keep the pain from spreading to other parts of the body. The string on the finger was designed to “keep” the thought there, to be remembered later when it was needed.”

The WVCB staff has worked hard to remind folks that September has five Fridays. Our Mount Carmel St. Ann’s 4th Friday: Fall Fest is happening, well, on the fourth Friday. Not the last Friday. We just want to make sure you don’t miss the last one of the season.

This time of year, there are plenty of folks in New York City and across the country that want to make sure you remember something far more important: The unimaginable tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001.

First Responders Park - HandAs more time passes, new generations of children will learn about that horrible day in history class, with no direct emotional connection to the day’s events and their aftermath. Whether you witnessed the devastation first-hand or you watched with the rest of the world as planes struck the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, you cannot let them forget.

Just like “the string on the finger was designed to ‘keep’ the thought there, to be remembered later when it was needed,” the City of Westerville’s 9/11 Observance is designed to keep your memories of that day alive and honor the innocent lives that were lost. And if you were too young or weren’t even born when the attacks took place, reading the thousands of eye-witness accounts or watching the countless documentaries that tell the stories of bravery and courage shown by the victims and those nearby, as well asFirst Responders Park the hatred demonstrated by the attackers, will provide enough background so that September 11th will always be a day of remembrance for you also.

Even if you still feel too far-removed from the events of 9/11, please consider the first responders in your own community and know that their commitment to you and your family is the same as the commitment shown by the police, fire and dispatch personnel who answered the call 15 years ago.

For more information on Westerville 9/11 Observance, Click Here.

There’s More to September Than Pumpkin Spice

‘Tis the season for Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING! September 1st must be the unofficial date where strawberry- and peach-flavored treats are replaced by everyone’s favorite orange gourd. But don’t be too quick to leave summer behind just yet.

Of course Westerville’s calendar is filled with fun fall activities like the Ned Mosher Apple Butter Festival, Midnight Madness and Mount Carmel St. Ann’s 4th Friday: Fall Fest. But we’re still wringing out all the summertime we can get with The Great Westerville Food Truck Fest and Cops and Kids Day.  To ease the transition between the season of humid to the season of crisp, you can take in the Uptown Westerville Farmers’ Market, enjoy garden walks at Inniswood and then bundle up for a high school football game. Then, and only then, can you embrace autumn, buy your pumpkins from the Boy Scouts and put pumpkin spice creamer in your morning joe.

Dog Days of Summer

It IS hot, but there is something else in the air this time of year. You know what I mean! The electricity, the excitement that comes along with a new school year! The smell of new shoes and backpacks. The diesel trail left behind by the school buses and the happy sounds of children as they wait for the doors to swing open and welcome them to a new day of learning.

As for Uptown Westerville, we are not only welcoming new Otterbein University students this week, we will be greeting the cold wet noses of man’s best friend for our Mount Carmel St. Ann’s 4th Friday: Dog Days of Summer on August 26th. Friday marks our “4th Friday” event and the “1st Friday” that Otterbein students are on campus this year. For some students, the campus and Uptown areas will be old, familiar territory. For other, it will be a new adventure. So to for the dogs and their owners who come to enjoy all the 4th Friday offerings. Some will be familiar with the vendors and activities and have come to enjoy them again. Others will be experiencing them for the first time.

So whether you and your dog are newbies or seasoned 4th Friday pros, we hope you enjoy our Dog Contest, photo booth, puppet shows, story times, street vendors, food trucks, live entertainment and the fun Uptown atmosphere that make 4th Fridays great community events.

Click Here for all the details.

Welcome Otterbein Students!

This time every year, Westerville gets an influx of new residents equipped with laundry baskets, comforters, futons and posters. Otterbein University’s 2016-2017 school year begins Monday, August 22 and students will spend the end of this week moving toin their residence halls and rental houses. To those students and their parents: Welcome to Westerville!

In addition to learning where their classes are located and which building houses their advisor’s office, Otterbein freshmen will quickly learn which of the many Uptown Westerville shops are their favorites, which restaurants have their favorite burger and, of course, which doughnut will be their late night go-to snack at Schneiders.

Once they spend a little time in Westerville, they’ll also learn about why we were once known as “Dry Capital of the World,” what happened during the Whiskey Wars and the Underground Railroad history present here.

We hope our community has an impact on each student who calls Westerville home for the next few years. We are also looking forward to the impact these students will have on Westerville: as interns and employees, as musicians, performers and artists and as community servants and volunteers.

The Cardinals have come to roost! Have a great year!

July 4th Detour

If you could pick something your community does really well, what would it be? Maybe where you’re from, they keep the streets really clean. Maybe they hang gorgeous flower baskets on all the street lights in the summer. Maybe different organizations go above and beyond to bring residents and visitors together for some fantastic, fun, family friendly events.

I really hope these things happen where you live, because they are all things we enjoy in Westerville, Ohio! It is always nice to have hard-working city services. Keeping the city clean, pretty, safe, fun, electrified and fiscally responsible are things Westerville does very, very well.

There are, however, less visible workers that make Westerville a great place to live, work and visit. Consider the Honor Flight volunteer serving at the Pancake Breakfast. The Lion’s Club member greeting you at the Chicken Dinner. The volunteers helping the Sunrise Rotary make sure each row of American Flags is straight for the Field of Heroes. These folks provide the energy that keeps Westerville moving forward.

When you bring your family to any part of Westerville’s Noon Rotary Independence Day Celebration on July 4th, watch for the worker bees. Watch for the Rotarians handing out water, setting up at the venues, or organizing the parade units. Their dedication is reminiscent of the people who in any way made our split from the British Motherland a reality. Whether famous or unknown to history, their hard work created a place for our generation. The volunteers you see in the community, whether manning the bounce house on 4th Friday or in an office answering the phone, are making our city a great place for generations to come.

So as you are setting up your lawn chairs along Monday’s altered parade route, somewhere between St. Paul’s Church and Electric Avenue, think about the patriotism that’s happening right in front of you. Say thank you, and wave your flag!

See What We’ve Been Missing!

It is said a person doesn’t miss something until it’s gone. The WVCB staff knows this all too well, since we haven’t been in our Uptown office for nearly a month. We are hard at work at our temporary office location, which couldn’t be nicer, but we are missing one thing: Visitors!

We know we are off the beaten path and not set up for company, but we sure miss the daily interaction with residents, visitors and our fellow Uptown folks. We miss chatting with our neighbors in the parking lot and getting pop-in visitors the likes of Bill Morgan with Morgan’s Treasure Fine Jewelry, artist David Myers from across the street, Debbie Bennati from A Gal Named Cinda Lou and many friends from City Hall. We even miss the fire truck sirens as they scream up West Main. We miss being steps from two great coffee shops. We miss the proximity to a variety of restaurants and a pharmacy. We miss the quick walk to the bank to make a deposit and all the smiling faces we encounter on a daily basis.

The point of sharing with you what we miss about Uptown, is to let you know what Uptown is and how it feels to be there. We know that, once repairs to our office building are finished, we will be back to enjoy Uptown once again, but what about you? Have you been Uptown lately? Have you had dinner in one of our great eateries or bought a gift for a friend in one of Uptown’s unique shops? Our candy, cookie, popcorn, ice cream and frozen custard parlors make a great outing for you and the kids. Buckeye BrewCraft and the Governor’s Smoke Shop will keep the guys busy while the ladies enjoy Deja Vu and My Cousin’s Closet. The possibilities are endless. Go ahead. Visit Uptown Westerville today and see what WE’VE been missing!

Breathe Deep…It’s Memorial Day Weekend!

Sure. You are probably busy this weekend. Traveling, cookouts, sports events and other outdoor fun might distract you from the “Memorial” in Memorial Day. Many people take the opportunity to stop at a cemetery and put flowers on a loved-ones grave. Some attend parades and other events to honor our servicemen and servicewomen who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. In Westerville, the Sunrise Rotary Club and its many volunteers spend the weekend (and many weeks of planning leading up to it) to bring the Field of Heroes to life.

There really are no words to describe it. Breath-taking is the only one that comes close. If you visit during the day, you may find some words to describe the perfect rows of billowing flags and who and what they stand for. If you visit after dark,  any words you might think to utter are swallowed by the solemn stillness surrounding you.

To many who walk among the Old Glories, that stillness represents the voices silenced in defense of our great nation. As you enjoy this long weekend, breathe deep and reflect for just a moment on, not only those members of the armed forces who made American what it is, but also on those who have gone before that made your life what it is: the immigrant great-grandparents, the first college graduate in your family, the mother who put herself last to make life better for her children or the teacher that went above and beyond for a student who needed it. They are heroes too!