Gahanna's Holiday Lights! Season kicks off in the kitchen, with culinary artists of all ages showcasing their talents in a gingerbread-house decorating contest.

Gahanna's Holiday Lights! Season kicks off in the kitchen, with culinary artists of all ages showcasing their talents in a gingerbread-house decorating contest.

Sponsored by the Chocolate Tree Sweetery and Strathmore Development Co., the contest is open to any family, business, group or individual who would like to enter a house made from scratch or a kit.

The house must be no bigger than 18 by 18 inches attached to a base of cardboard or plywood no larger than 24 by 24 inches.

It should be delivered to the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau, 167 Mill St., Gahanna, between Thursday, Nov. 14, and Thursday, Dec. 12.

"I wanted to provide as much time as possible to get them entered," said Susan Peters, GCVB business and events manager.

Judging ends at midnight Friday, Dec. 13.

Voting will be at the Chocolate Tree and via online at

The grand-prize winner for the best overall gingerbread house will receive a hotel overnight stay, passes to COSI, Firehouse Subs, a round of golf at Gahanna's Municipal Golf Course and miscellaneous goodies, Peters said.

Prizes also will be awarded in the following categories: professional first place, the house voted best in show that's created by a professional; adult, entries made by those ages 18 and older; teens (13-17), youth (9-12) and children (5-8).

Prize winners will be announced at the Holiday Character Breakfast at the Sanctuary, 92 N. High St., on Saturday, Dec. 14.

"I managed to get wonderful prizes," Peters said.

All contest entries will be judged based on overall appearance, originality and creativeness, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme.

Each entrant receives a free cookie from the Chocolate Tree.

The houses will be displayed at the Chocolate Tree, 81 Mill St., between Nov. 16 and Dec. 16.

Complete rules are available at

Metcalf, Reynolds to marshal parade

GCVB just announced the grand marshals for the 2013 Holiday Lights! parade, presented by AEP Ohio and scheduled to step off at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29.

Gahanna business owner and community leader Beverly Metcalf will serve as community grand marshal, with Olympic medalist Butch Reynolds serving as celebrity grand marshal.

Metcalf, a 43-year Gahanna resident, opened Metcalf Design & Printing with her family in 1982.

She has been a Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce member since 1989 and was a board member from 1991 to 1999. In 1999, Metcalf became a member of the board of Gahanna Events, where she served as the chairperson of the Holiday Lights! parade committee for five years.

Additionally, she has been on the board of trustees of the Olde Gahanna Community Partnership and was a member of the Gahanna-Jefferson Business Advisory Council for many years.

"The Holiday Lights! parade is one of my favorite things about living in Gahanna" she said. "It is such a fun family event to kick off the holiday season. I am thrilled to have been chosen as grand marshal this year."

Track star and Gahanna resident Butch Reynolds held the world record for the 400-meter dash for 11 years.

He won the silver medal in the event in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and was a member of the relay team that won the gold medal in the Olympics that year.

He also enjoyed success with the 1,600-meter relay team, winning the world title three times in his career with the United States in 1987, 1993 and 1995.

"I am really honored to be celebrity grand marshal for the parade and look forward to the parade and the run as well," Reynolds said. "It really brings together the community spirit in Gahanna, and it's one of the reasons I love living here."

Reynolds also will join in the Healthy Holiday 5K Fun Run and 1-mile Family Fun Run, presented by Mt. Carmel, on the morning of Friday, Nov. 29.

Participants may register for either race The 5K Run starts at 10:30 a.m. in downtown Gahanna, followed by the 1-mile Family Fun Run at 10:45 a.m.

The 2013 Holiday Lights! parade is touted as one of the largest nighttime illuminated holiday events in the Midwest.

The parade will march west on Granville Street and then north on Mill Street into Olde Gahanna. It will feature floats, marching bands, equestrian entries and Santa Claus -- all covered in thousands of lights.