As if we needed any more reasons to get excited about the start of the holiday season, our parks and recreation department has planned another great Winter Festival for the community's enjoyment.

As if we needed any more reasons to get excited about the start of the holiday season, our parks and recreation department has planned another great Winter Festival for the community's enjoyment.

Mallway Park on Arlington Avenue will be glowing with holiday cheer on Friday, Nov. 30, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and you are invited to bring the family along for a spirited evening of activities.

Kurt Ludlow, WBNS-10TV anchor, will emcee the evening's events, which include the lighting of the community's holiday tree with Mayor Frank Ciotola at 7:30 p.m. Musical entertainment features caroling by Windermere School fourth-graders, directed by Dulcy Delcamp; the Bel Canto Choir, directed by Emily Belcher; and the Liddlers, directed by Alie Joyner.

You can also enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with Santa Claus, ice sculpting demonstrations, and children's activities. Enjoy s'mores, courtesy of Sarah Eagleson of Keller Williams Classic Properties, alongside a bonfire for roasting and toasting.

Santa will be back for a brunch buffet on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Amelita Mirolo Barn in Sunny 95 Park. There are three times to choose from, and you can register online at

As always, kids can also send their holiday wish list to Santa through the special mailbox set up at the Municipal Services Center each year. Now through Dec. 14, you can drop off letters to Santa (one letter per envelope, please, with non-affixed first-class stamp enclosed) and children will receive a letter back from Santa, directly from the North Pole.

Full details of these holiday activities can be found at For the Winter Festival, if the weather is questionable, you can check the weather hotline after 2 p.m. the day of the event, at 614-583-5345. I hope to see you there.

Chamber's Best Gift Ideas

While I'd much rather avoid holiday shopping altogether, it's an inevitability that must be faced. Despite my best intentions and frenzied list-making, more often than not, I've found myself walking aimlessly around a mall a few days before Christmas, trying to find inspiration.

Luckily, the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce is making holiday planning a bit easier again this year with its annual Best Gift Ideas program, presenting shoppers with an easy list of unique gift ideas all to be found in or close to UA.

Retailers, restaurants and services throughout the community have been invited to showcase their top gift ideas and, ultimately, their businesses through this wonderful new program. Since outreach began in late October, the gift suggestions have been pouring in, with ideas to be found within a wide range of categories, including apparel, art, beauty services, food and dining, toys and much more.

There are two easy ways for you to find out which businesses are participating, and to take advantage of the ideas and deals to be had:

* Visit and click on the Best Gift Ideas link on the homepage. There you will find details of all the available gift idea categories, participating businesses and their special gift ideas. Once you click on the gift idea you are interested in, a printable coupon will open with additional details.

* Look for the Best Gift Ideas posters placed prominently within participating businesses. Each poster tells you exactly what great gift idea to ask for, and each participating business can also share with you where to find other Best Gift Ideas.

Why put gas in your tank and miles on your car, when everything you need is right here in the UA area? Discover the many one-of-a-kind, family owned shops and services that enrich the Upper Arlington community. Explore the array of unique gifts for friends and family that can be found just around the corner. Support our local businesses and help keep our community strong and full of incredible shopping options year-round.

Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.