You’ve got to see this lovely lantern fest this weekend

Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Photo via The Light Fest Facebook event page
(Photo via The Light Fest Facebook event page)

We told you about the Lantern Festival that illuminated the night sky in Sparta, Kentucky this past weekend.

>> Your guide to summer festivals in (and around) Dayton

But in case you missed it, this August you have an even more convenient chance to let your own light soar.

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Just a 40-minute drive from Dayton at the Ohio Renaissance Festival grounds in Waynesville, The Lights Fest is set to take place on August 12 from 3 to 9 p.m.

The Lights Fest is a company that tours worldwide, creating enchanting memories for people across the country and around the globe. 

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(Photo via 'The Lights Fest' official website. The Lights Fest Austin, TX 2016.)

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The mood at the festival is magical, as each person in attendance has their own meaningful reason for participating. According to Light Fest’s website, “It creates a surreal ambiance, where time slows down as your single flame rises with thousands of others.”

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Hundreds of warm, glowing lanterns floating in unison is certainly a spectacular treat for the eyes. But the lanterns’ hand-written messages detailing people’s hopes, dreams and words to loved ones is what makes the night so special.

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The big release happens at dark. However, there is plenty of fun to be had during twilight hours while you wait in anticipation for the main event. Food trucks, live music, plenty of dancing, painting and bouncy houses for the kids packs a lot into one night. 

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Environmental impact is a sensible concern, considering hundreds of lanterns are regularly released at a single event. That’s why The Lights Fest has a clean-up crew ready and waiting in the designated landing zone. All lanterns are also biodegradable, according to Light Fest’s website. 

(Photo via 'The Lights Fest' official website. The Lights Fest, Austin, TX 2016.)

Buy your ticket soon, though, because ticket prices WILL continue to increase as the event day approaches. VIP and early bird tickets are already sold out, and general admission tickets are now on-sale for $35.

Want to go?

WHAT: The Lights Fest

WHEN: 3-9 p.m. August 12, 2017

WHERE: Ohio Renaissance Festival grounds, 10542 E State Route 73, Waynesville, Ohio 

COST: $35/general admission; late, last-minute, and final call tickets range from $40-55

INFO: Facebook event page

Dayton’s very own live version of ‘A Christmas Story’ is happening now

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 3:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 12:19 PM

A group of young actors from the Miami Valley will perform in “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre. The show is presented by the VTA and produced by The Human Race Theatre Company. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE
Staff Writer
A group of young actors from the Miami Valley will perform in “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre. The show is presented by the VTA and produced by The Human Race Theatre Company. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)

Ralphie Parker’s memorable quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun is back in the spotlight as the Victoria Theatre Association presents the Human Race Theatre Company’s excellent production of “A Christmas Story” through Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Victoria Theatre.

Here are five reasons why you should catch this entertaining showcase, adapted by Philip Grecian based on Jean Shepherd’s book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” and the iconic 1983 film of the same name.  


Set in Hohman, Ind., in 1938, the play smoothly balances the endearing sentiments of Shepherd’s book with the kooky situations/images from the film.

But let’s face it – you’ll want to see the play because of what you remember from the film. Thankfully, you won’t be disappointed. The flagpole, the leg lamp, Ralphie’s Little Orphan Annie decoder pin, Randy’s oversized winter gear, the legendary Scut Farkus Affair, the tire fiasco, and the department store slide are all here just to name a few.

Director Igor Goldin even ensures you’ll hear a snippet of the infamous rendition of “Deck the Halls” from the Chinese restaurant.

But the play also provides some refreshing moments such as a jungle expedition fantasy, Esther Jane’s big crush on Ralphie, Randy’s inability to control his bladder, and a funny bit of living room stage business between The Old Man (Race resident artist Tim Lile) and Mother (Teri Clark Linden) centered on the leg lamp and a sandwich.  

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Who can forget this iconic scene from “A Christmas Story?” The live comedy will be on stage at the Victoria Theatre. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)


Charming Wright State University alum Greg Mallios truly shines and engagingly connects as Ralph Parker, narrating the proceedings with great warmth and enthusiasm.

Tapping into Shepherd’s extremely colorful vernacular is a huge challenge, but Mallios winningly steps up to the plate. For instance, when Ralph reminisces about his intimidating time with Santa (hilariously voiced by Lile), he spins the line “dazed in the presence of divine celebrity” into comic gold.  


Casting is everything when it comes to a character-specific show like this, but an array of talented youngsters absolutely fit the bill.

The principal actors include admirable Eric Pettit (Winthrop in Wright State’s outstanding 2016 production of “The Music Man”) as Ralphie, Alex Glen as Randy, Jason Caldwell as Flick, energetic Noah Rutkowski as Schwartz, a wonderfully imposing Jack Lockwood using his physicality very convincingly as bully Scut Farkus, Danika Márquez as smitten Esther Jane, Reese Hornick as Helen, and ensemble members Emery Kimmins, and JaBreayle Lyle.

Featured opposite the kids, Race resident artist Katie Pees is an absolute hoot as Miss Shields and an overworked Higbee’s elf.  

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“A Christmas Story” is based author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Pictured: Flick’s triple-dog-dare-ya. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)


Scenic designer Dick Block, a Dayton native, supplies another terrific set for the Human Race. Block’s revolving, snowglobe-esque design fuels the show’s fluidity as the action goes back and forth between the Parker household, the school, Higbee’s, and more.

His previous Human Race credits include “The Full Monty,” “Avenue Q,” “Gem of the Ocean,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” and “The Tempest.” 


Although the Red Ryder BB Gun is of utmost importance, the nostalgic beauty of this show, this heartwarming story, is in its potent reminder of what the Christmas season is all about: family, friendship, forgiveness, love, and hope.

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What: “A Christmas Story,” a Projects Unlimited Star Attraction presented by the Victoria Theatre Association and produced by the Human Race Theatre Company.  

When: Tuesday, Dec. 12, through Sunday, Dec. 17. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton  

Tickets: Prices range from $30 to $60. Purchase online at, at the Box Office, or call (937) 228-3630 or 888-228-3630. Group, military and student discounts available.  For information:

Dayton board game cafe has plenty of events leading up to Christmas

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 11:16 AM

Dayton board game cafe Cardboard Crowns, wants to be the go-to spot for family and friends to gather around the table for some holiday gaming. Contributed photo
Dayton board game cafe Cardboard Crowns, wants to be the go-to spot for family and friends to gather around the table for some holiday gaming. Contributed photo

Dayton’s newest board game cafe, Cardboard Crowns, wants to be the go-to spot for family and friends to gather around the table for some holiday gaming. 

Dayton board game cafe Cardboard Crowns, wants to be the go-to spot for family and friends to gather around the table for some holiday gaming. Contributed photo

They’ve planned a special “12 Days of Gaming” full of games, giveaways and Christmas cheer that starts Wednesday, December 13 and goes until Christmas Eve. 

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“Christmas time is a great time for extended families to come together and play games,” says Joshua West, store manager at Cardboard Crowns. “Board games are the perfect tool to facilitate being present in the moment, removing ourselves from the daily digital experience, and truly appreciating the gathering of friends and family.” 

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Dayton board game cafe Cardboard Crowns, wants to be the go-to spot for family and friends to gather around the table for some holiday gaming. Contributed photo

During the “12 Days of Christmas” event, Cardboard Crowns is waiving their usual library fee of $5 per person, and allowing guests to come peruse the library at no charge. Visitors can browse over 800 board game titles, including the hottest new games as well as old classics. 

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Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign in September, Cardboard Crowns opened the cafe last month. The location offers delicious craft beers on tap, wine, soup, sandwiches, and snacks. 

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Dayton board game cafe Cardboard Crowns, wants to be the go-to spot for family and friends to gather around the table for some holiday gaming. Contributed photo

“From day one, Cardboard Crowns has been fortunate that family, friends, our Kickstarter supporters, and board gamers in the Dayton community have championed us. We want to give back to the those supporters,” says West. 

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Each of the 12 Days of Christmas, Cardboard Crowns will feature different board games for aspiring gamers to try out at “Learn to Play” sessions. When a guest tries a game, he or she will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of that title. Popular games like Codenames and the award-winning Kingdomino are among the many titles Cardboard Crowns plans to give away over the course of the event. 

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“Now is an excellent time to get into board gaming,” said Joshua West. “With board game stores and play spaces, like Cardboard Crowns, opening there is a real strong community that has grown within the last decade. This presence of a community allows new board gamers of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to teach and learn from one another.”

Board games also make great gifts, of course, and Cardboard Crowns has a retail counter where you can knock out a good chunk of your Christmas list.

“We have some great games available here for purchase that would make great gifts for both new and experienced gamers,” Said West. “For new gamers, I’d suggest Ticket to Ride. With over 3 million copies sold, it is one of the best games to introduce someone to the hobby.”

For those who like a little more challenge during game time, West suggested the Exit: the Game series. 

“I have actually purchased these games for my family to play over the holidays,” he said. “They are cooperative deduction games that simulate escape rooms. Players use deductive reasoning skills to try to escape and win the game.”

Cardboard Crowns is open 365 days a year so that loved ones can enjoy the library even on holidays. The cafe has a crew of Game Masters on staff to assist visitors in learning unfamiliar games.

“Myself and all of the Game Masters at Cardboard Crowns will happily make specific recommendations for you, based on age, skill level, and what games you like to play,” West said. “We also have gift cards available for the cafe that can be used to purchase games or for library passes, food, or drinks.”


WHAT: Cardboard Crowns’ 12 Days of Christmas

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 13 until Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017

WHERE: Cardboard Crowns, 147 N. Springboro Pike, Dayton

MORE INFO: | (937) 388-4670

Hanukkah 2017: 8 things you probably didn't know about Hanukkah

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:01 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:01 PM

Here are some interesting things you probably didn't know about Hanukkah The Hebrew word is "חֲנֻכָּה" The word Hanukkah translates to "dedication" Hanukkah celebrates how they reclaimed their temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the God of Jewish tradition The books of Maccabees are the ones that describe the retaking of the holy land The game of dreidel was inspired an Irish one The next "Thanksgivukkah" is only 53 years away

If everything you know about Hanukkah comes from an Adam Sandler song, you are not alone.

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There are a many Americans out there whose only real knowledge on the subject is that Hanukkah, which will be celebrated between the evening of Dec. 12 to evening of Dec. 20, is a festival of lights and that, instead of one day of presents, the Jewish community gets the joy of eight nights of gifts.

There's much more to know about Hanukkah than that, though.

Here are some interesting things you probably didn't know about Hanukkah:

1. How to spell it

If, when the subject of Hanukkah comes up, you become nervous and uncertain because you don't know whether to go with H-A-N-U-K-K-A-H or C-H-A-N-U-K-A-H or whether it's two K's or one. Here’s the deal: you probably aren't wrong. The Hebrew word is "חֲנֻכָּה" and when people transliterate that word into something English, they sometimes go with C-H and sometimes go with just an H, both of which are approximate the guttural "kh" sound that starts the Hebrew word. So, if you like keeping things easy, start with the H. 

2. What did we just spell?

The word Hanukkah, by the way, translates to "dedication."

3. What the dedication was all about

A brief history lesson: In 164 BC, the land Jewish people consider "the Holy Land" was ruled by a group that today would comprise parts of Syria and Greece. They wanted the people of Israel to assimilate, but a small band of Jews (led by a fellow named Judah the Maccabee) won a battle, reclaimed their temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the God of Jewish tradition.

4. Why, if it's about temple dedications, are there ‘eight crazy nights,’ as Sandler puts it?

Because, as legend has it, when the temple dedication team went to light the temple's menorah, they found only enough olive oil to last one day. Miraculously, that supply lasted eight whole days. And thus, Hanukkah was born.

5. Is it really about the oil lasting eight nights? 

Maybe not. Other Jewish texts suggest that it wasn't the oil burning for eight days, but rather a delay in regularly scheduled programming that brought about the modern eight-day Hanukkah tradition. Because the Jewish people of Israel were still in caves fighting during September 164 BC, they didn't get to celebrate the eight-day-long holiday of Sukkot. The event was postponed until after the Jewish guerrillas won back Jerusalem and reclaimed the temple. Then, the event was back on, and thus Hanukkah was born.

6. The books that describe all of these events aren't in the Hebrew bible.

The books of Maccabees are the ones that describe the retaking of the holy land. And they aren't even in the traditional Hebrew bible. But they are in the Catholic bible. So, there's that.

Right to left, Alex Brown, 11, Gabriel Brown, 11 and Eli Cox, 9, play the dreidel game, a traditional Hanukkah game, at the Dreidel Tournament held at Recycled Reads in 2013.(Erika Rich)

7. The game of dreidel was inspired by Irish game.

Besides the menorah, nothing is associated with the holiday traditions of Hanukkah quite like the dreidel. But few realize that the game itself comes from Ireland. Originally, the four-sided tops were painted with Latin words. The game dates to an era before the Roman empire. As the empire's trade routes expanded, the game spread across Europe and eventually became synonymous with Jewish culture.

8. The next "Thanksgivukkah" (sort of), is only 53 years away.

For those who don't know better, Hanukkah can seem like a Jewish Christmas. But it isn't that at all. Nor, despite its proximity in dates to western holidays, is it some kind of post-Thanksgiving buffer holiday. In fact, Hanukkah moves around. The Jewish calendar relies on lunar months of either 29 or 30 days. But the rest of the world goes on the Gregorian calendar. As a result, Hannukah's start date can fall anywhere between November 27 and December 26 in any given year. The next time we see a Thanksgivukkah? 53 years. The next Christmukkah? 2027.

Bonus burning fact

There is a height limit for menorahs: 20 cubits, and not a cubit more.


This movie marathon celebrating George Lucas will get you primed for latest ‘Star Wars’ flick

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Rey (Daisy Ridley) is one of many characters struggling with the death of Han Solo in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi.'
Rey (Daisy Ridley) is one of many characters struggling with the death of Han Solo in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi.'

Get ready to be taken to a galaxy far, far away. 

Staff at the Dayton Metro Library downtown Dayton branch, 215 E. Third St., are preparing to celebrate the Star Wars universe as “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is set to open in local theaters. 

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The library will have free screenings of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and movies inspired by or that inspired director George Lucas Thursday and Saturday.


Also known as “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” Force Awakens is chronologically the last Star Wars film released. 

The Last Jedi  or “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi” is set to open Thursday.

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Shaun Wright, the downtown branch’s information services manager, organized the event with Jacki Fulood, its youth services manager. 

He said Star Wars taps into many mythologies. 

Star Wars is an international and cultural phenomena. As libraries we are interested in what community are interested in,” he said. “We want to celebrate that.” 

Below is the rundown of the movies the library will screen and a short explanation of why they will be included.

Thursday, Dec. 14

3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. “The Force Awakens”

Why: It precedes “The Last Jedi” chronologically.

Saturday, Dec. 16 

9:30 a.m. “Casablanca” NR, 102 min 

Wright says Lucas drew inspiration from many parts of the 1942 drama featuring Humphrey Bogart as nightclub owner Rick Blaine. 

Blaine helped inspire the Han Solo (Harrison Ford) character as well as Lando Calrissian played by Billy Dee Williams, Wright says. 

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Lucas was also inspired by Casablanca setting and drew inspiration from it for the Empire from the film’s depiction of Nazis. 

11:30 a.m. “Toy Story” G, 81 min 

Several references to Star Wars are made in the 1995 Disney classic, Wright says. 

1 p.m. “Guardians of the Galaxy” PG-13, 121 min 

Wright said the epicness of the 2014 Marvel Comics space opera harkens back to Star Wars. 

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3:30 p.m. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” PG-13, 137 min 

Lucas drew inspiration for a scene in the movie from the graphic novel that inspired the 2017 movie, Wright says. 

The graphic novel was first published in 1967. Its last installment was printed in 2010.