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Becoming buoyant: I tried the sensory-deprivation float at Gravity Spa

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

Alex Perry
(Alex Perry)

Upon entering the Gravity Spa in Beavercreek, you immediately get the sense you’re in a place of relaxation -- and not just because of the comical sign in the window asking for quietness. 

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You’ll see aquatic-inspired artwork, hear soothing instrumental music, and smell a faint scent of essential oils. The employees are either barefoot or in socks, greeting their regulars with a hug and piping-hot cup of tea.

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The most surprising thing to me about Gravity Spa was their focus on military members. In the lobby, I noticed a veteran wearing a jacket signifying their retirement from duty. I then noticed signs encouraging veterans to join a private online group providing support to veteran floaters. There was a collection jar for funds supporting veterans’ financial ability to float, and I overheard military discounts offered upon checkout. Even spouses got a discount. It was intriguing and touching how involved the Gravity Spa seemed to be with its community. As the daughter of a combat veteran, I felt an immediate urge to text my mom and tell her about what I was seeing -- maybe they could help her, too. 

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(Alex Perry)

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For starters, the flotation tank is a large vat filled with 1,000 lbs. of Epsom salt and just under a foot of 93.5-degree water.

I spoke with the owner of Gravity Spa, Melony Wimer, to get a better understanding of how it worked.

After we chatted, Wimer showed me the shower supplies available to all pre- and post-float. Since they use germicidal UV lights, as well as natural cleansers, they insist each guest remove all traces of products from their skin and hair, as to not leave behind residue in the tank. 

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(Alex Perry)

Having just left work, I had a face of makeup and hair full of product, so I quickly cleansed myself with a pre-float solution (which Wimer informed me was simply Dr. Bronner’s baby soap). Once clean, I hopped in the tank and closed the door. In complete darkness, I floated there for over an hour in silence. Since a large amount of the brain is used to deal with the effects of gravity, the lack of processing allowed for an almost euphoric feeling -- much like you feel just before you fall asleep. I had read on their website about the ability to enter a deep meditative state, but I didn’t quite make it there myself. 

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(Alex Perry)

During the float, my brain teetered between complete relaxation and anxiousness. I’m a mother of two kids under three, who’s moving into a new home, planning a wedding, and constantly involved in technology and communication. As this may suggest, I rarely stop. I struggled to quiet my thoughts and “embrace the void.” It reminded me a lot of what Uma Mullapudi explained to me in our chat about meditation -- it can be very challenging to “shut off,” and it wasn’t until I experienced it myself that I realized how true this was. 

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(Alex Perry)

Physically, I could feel certain areas of my back and neck becoming less tense -- even cracking gently as I moved peacefully in the water. After I left and went about my day, I noted more stamina during my evening workout, a better night’s sleep, and no soreness in my arms this morning (it’s been a while since I’ve picked up free weights). Overall, this was an experience I would like try again, and would recommend it to anyone suffering from anxiety, stress or physical tension.

Want to go?

WHAT: Gravity Spa

WHERE: 1905 Woods Dr.

HOURS: Monday - Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

INFO: or 937-696-9595

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KINGS ISLAND: What to know and what to check out this season

Published: Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

King's Island opens this weekend

The story of Kings Island can maybe best be told by the sheer number of guests the park plays host to each year.

Last year a whopping 25 million rides and attractions were enjoyed by park guests.

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Five attractions gave more than one million rides: Banshee (1,636,279), Diamondback (1,557,021), Mystic Timbers (1,312,990), The Racer (1,254,127) and The Beast (1,058,500). The K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad just missed giving one million rides, finishing the year at 998,907.

>>SPECIAL DEAL: Kings Island offering free admission for military over Memorial Day weekend

These numbers taken collectively since the park opened its doors 46 years ago are staggering. More than 1.3 billion rides — 1,377,564,183 to be exact — have been given since 1972, which means that the 2018 season, which begins this weekend, will likely push the park past the 1.4 billion ride mark this year.

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Mystic Timbers continues to be one of Kings Island’s top attractions. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)


“Last season was a good one for Kings Island. As first years for roller coasters go, Mystic Timbers was nearly perfect. We started out the year being named the Most Anticipated Roller Coaster of the Year, and in the fall we won the Golden Ticket Award for Best New Ride in the World. We also introduced the Island Smokehouse inside our Soak City Water Park, which was received by our guests as one of the best new food offerings we’ve introduced over the past several years,” said Chad Showalter, Kings Island Director of Communications. “Our guests tell us that Kings Island is a place where they come with their family and friends to create memories and traditions together. For some that might be the big thrills, like The Beast and Mystic Timbers. For others, it might be the little thrills, like Planet Snoopy or the Dodgem bumper cars. No matter what our guests are looking for, we have something for everyone.”

Kings Island held a preview event for the new restaurant and food items that will be available in the park this season. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Staff Writer)


Food is the focus for the 2018 season at the popular Warren County attraction. James Major, two-time winner of the Food Network’s Chopped reality TV cooking contest and contestant on Alton Brown’s Cutthroat Kitchen, has taken on the executive chef position at Kings Island. Major is a Culinary Institute of America Certified Pro Chef II, a U.S. Navy veteran, and Ohio native. He previously served as executive chef at Great American Ball Park and Funky’s Catering.

“Chef Major is here to help create those memorable food and dining options throughout the park that will enhance the guest’s visit,” said Mike Koontz, Kings Island Vice President and General Manager. “In the amusement park industry, you’re constantly challenging your team to find new ways to help friends and family come together, and the culinary experience is a big part of that.

Kings Island held a preview event for the new restaurant and food items that will be available in the park this season. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Staff Writer)

In addition to a new person leading their food service, Kings Island will be adding a new restaurant in Coney Mall. Coney Bar B Que will join the Kings Island restaurant line-up serving smoked St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork, rotisserie chicken and Queen City Sausage along with a fresh selection of side dishes. Located next to the Scrambler, the restaurant’s architecture and theming will pay tribute to the early days of Kings Island and Coney Mall.


And of course some of the best additions to last year will continue.

“Since 2005, the most popular question we were asked by guests was, ‘When are you bringing WinterFest back?’ In 2017 we not only brought it back, but it was bigger and better than it had ever been. With more than five million lights, up to 17 rides operating, skating on the Royal Fountain and the transformation of the Eiffel Tower into a magical Christmas tree, our guests resoundingly responded to make it the best WinterFest we’ve ever had. WinterFest will be back in 2018, starting November 23 for select nights through December 30,” said Showalter.


Many of the special events happening this year have been announced. Here is the list of upcoming events at Kings Island as they currently stand. For more information visit

• May 25-28: Military Appreciation Days (free admission for military)

• June 15-16: Coaster Campout

• June 21-23: SpiritSong Christian Music Festival

• July 4: Fourth of July Spectacular

• Sept. 21 – Oct. 28: Halloween Haunt on Fridays and Saturdays

• Nov. 23 – Dec. 30: WinterFest on select nights


What: Kings Island

Where: 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason

More information: 513-754-5700 or

Opens: April 14, Soak City Waterpark opens May 26

Daily operation begins: May 11

Hours of operation: Varies. Check the website for details of the date you plan to visit —

Dining plans: Kings Island offers an all-day dining plan and a season pass dining plan, which allows diners to choose from one of several entrees and a side at participating locations for two meals. Plans can be purchased in person at the park.

Save money: The best ways to save money are by purchasing tickets in advance online.

And speaking of numbers: The Racer has given more than one million rides in each of its 46 seasons and a park-record 104 million rides overall. The Enchanted Voyage (47,380,374) and Kenton County Keelboat Canal (40,069,518) top the list of retired rides, which gave a combined 418,921,951 rides during their years of service at Kings Island. The dual-track coaster, The Racer, holds the park record for most rides given during its first year of operation with 3.5 million rides given in 1972.

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Plan the perfect picnic in Dayton: where to go

Published: Saturday, April 18, 2015 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 1:04 PM

Finding the perfect place to BYOB (bring your own basket) is a breeze with our favorite parks to spread out that blanket and relax with good friends and good food. (Video by Tabatha Wharton)

It’s the perfect time of year to plan a picnic — whether it’s with your love, your friends or your family. 

Our goal is to make picnic planning simple for you so you can relax and enjoy.

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We’ve scoured the area to discover the most scenic, friendly, and fun places to set out your blanket and enjoy delicious food in the great outdoors.


Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

Culp's Cafe, located on the grounds of the Carillon Historical Park, has a variety of sandwiches, soups, sides and ice cream treats. FILE PHOTO / LISA POWELL(Lisa Powell)

In 1950, Carillon Historical Park’s museum complex opened with the purpose of showcasing the region’s industrial innovations, transportation achievements, and Dayton’s contributions to world progress. Since construction first began on Deeds Carillon in 1940, the dreams of Edith and Edward Deeds have evolved into a beautiful 65-acre campus — designed by the Olmsted Brothers (the famed landscape architects responsible for Central Park) — containing dozens of museum buildings, countless artifacts, and picturesque green space perfect for a relaxing picnic. 

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John Bryan State Park, 3790 Ohio 370, Yellow Springs

Emily Blair and Aaron Wheeler, both of Springfield, look at a map of John Bryan State Park while out for a hike on Wednesday, April 23. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF(Chris Stewart)

John Bryan is the most scenic state park in western Ohio. The 752-acre park contains a remarkable limestone gorge cut by the Little Miami River which is designated as a state and national scenic river. A portion of the gorge itself is designated as a national natural landmark. With both reservable covered picnic areas, a day lodge, and picnic tables available at all campsites, there are plenty of places with remarkable views to enjoy a bite with your buds and besties.

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Lincoln Park Civic Commons, 675 Lincoln Park Blvd, Kettering

The City of Kettering is in the process of removing and replacing ash trees near the Fraze Pavilion at the civic commons. Many of the dying trees are still standing. Lindsay Arway walks her dog Onyx through Lincoln Park where a few of the trees are almost bare. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Nestled around the Fraze Pavillion, this master-planned outdoor space in Kettering offers the perfect picnic atmosphere with all the modern convenience of a professional venue. Check the schedule for the Fraze to see what events coordinate with your picnic plans — or just bring a blanket and grab your meal from Ernie’s concession stand.

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Carriage Hill MetroPark, 7800 Shull Rd, Huber Heights

Two donkeys at Carriage Hill Metropark graze in the pasture surrounded by a split rail fence and brilliant fall colors in October 2015. The picturesque farm park has been a popular place for family photos. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Head to the Cedar Lake Shelter for a lake view, fishing (no license required) and nature trails. With a historic farm just a short walk down the road, there are plenty of great spots to scope out.

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Eastwood MetroPark, 1385 Harshman Rd, Dayton

The scene on Eastwood Lake at Eastwood MetroPark, Monday, May 30, 2016. JOHN BEDELL/STAFF

The River View Shelter overlooking the Mad River Run area at Eastwood is the place to be with great views overlooking the Mad River and new kayak and river play area. This is a spot close to a playground and other park amenities. The Thompson Shelter in the North Park of Englewood MetroPark also provides an excellent picnic experience. There is a wonderful view from the shelter and the area includes fishing and water access as well as opportunities for wildlife observation. A picnic at Patty Shelter is close enough to let the kids play in the nature play area, and then head out on a short hike ½ mile hike along the purple trail to check out Patty Falls.

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Germantown MetroPark, 7101 Conservancy Rd, Germantown

Conservation Manager Michael Enright of Five Rivers MetroParks walks along the field of the current farmland that will be transformed into a prairie that will provide the food and nesting sites necessary for pollinators’ survival. Many of the plants will be milkweed, which is critical to monarchs since it’s the only plant on which they lay their eggs. The project is funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund. Protecting the dwindling monarch population is a priority for Fish & Wildlife, which is determining if monarchs should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. JIM WITMER/STAFF(Jim Witmer)

Head south of the Germantown Dam on the opposite side of the Creek from the main Dam Parking area. While you are setting up the picnic, let the kids hunt for fossils and splash in the water below the dam as long as water levels are low. Stone imprints from the Ordovician time period such as prehistoric snails, trilobites, and squid-like creatures with hard shells can all be found by the inquisitive and careful explorer.

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Hills & Dales MetroPark, 2655 S Patterson Blvd, Kettering

Hills and Dales offers great picnic amenities, especially for large groups. (Source: Five Rivers MetroParks)

The Paw Paw Shelter has an elegant Adirondack design, fireplace, electricity and ADA flush toilets. An alcohol permit can be purchased. This is a good spot for larger groups (it seats up to 100).

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Possum Creek MetroPark, 4790 Frytown Rd, Dayton

Animals graze in fields at the farm at Possum Creek MetroPark. Possum Creek MetroPark Edible Farm is striving to become a leader in promoting small-scale food raising for the local community. LISA POWELL / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Follow the purple trail through the enchanted Argonne Forest where remnants of a once-vibrant entertainment center is now currently intermingled with moss, vines and old trees. Stop at the ballroom dance floor, spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch. There’s also a Hickory Shelter with an Argonne Lake view, fishing (no license required), hiking trails and a smaller-more intimate shelter.

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Taylorsville MetroPark, 2000 US-40, Vandalia

courtesy of:

There is a small remote picnic area about 1.25 miles north of the parking lot located at 2005 U.S. Rte. 40. The picnic spot is located at the remnants of the village of Tadmore, which was once the busiest crossroads in Montgomery County. The village was situated at the intersection of The Miami-Erie Canal, the National Road, the Dayton Michigan Railroad and the Great Miami River. Hike or bike the 1.25 miles on the Great Miami Recreational Trail, which is relatively flat and mostly shaded. If you are looking for a slightly more adventurous walk, you can walk along the tow path trail that parallels the bikeway. There’s also the CCC Shelter, featuring a rustic, secluded atmosphere, stone fireplace located near hiking trails.

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Twin Creek MetroPark, 9688 Eby Rd, Germantown

Twin Creek can be a destination for a romantic picnic for two or a fun, inexpensive day out for the whole family. (Source: Five Rivers MetroParks)

The High View Shelter offers panoramic and scenic views of the Twin Valley, access to nature trails and fishing (no license required) at Dogwood Pond. It’s an intimate, location for a romantic picnic (seats 15 max.) with great views. Up for a little family adventure? Pack a picnic lunch, park at the High View parking lot and enjoy a hike along the 2.9-mile yellow loop, stopping at Dogwood Pond for lunch along the way.

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Wegerzyn Garden MetroPark, 1301 E Siebenthaler Ave, Dayton

Barb Bayliff of Harrison Twp. took this photo of a row of crabapples trees, showy in the Easter colors of purple and pink on April 12th at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton.
Spend the day touring the formal gardens or visiting the Children’s Discovery Garden at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark. Make a day of it by staying for a picnic in the area that is available to the south of the gardens. A reservable shelter is also available.

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NEW DETAILS: Dayton restaurant up for sale

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 3:10 PM

Paradise Keys Cafe South  half a slab of ribs  dinner.
Paradise Keys Cafe
Paradise Keys Cafe South half a slab of ribs dinner.(Paradise Keys Cafe)

A Dayton restaurant that has closed may not be gone for good.

The owner of the recently closed Paradise Key Cafe location at 1060 Patterson Road in the Breitenstrater Plaza, is considering reopening it under a new concept or selling it, owner Larry Parr said. 

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The asking price for the business is $75,000. 

“It is an option to sell, but we are still open to a new theme,” he said. 

Jennifer Lynn Jones, the restaurant’s chief executive officer, announced Thursday that the restaurant opened in December 2016 would close due to under performance. 

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“It didn’t matter what we tried to do; we just could not get the kind of party we had at our original location,” Jones said.

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The Key West-themed restaurant employed 13.

Jones said they have been offered jobs at the original Paradise Keys Cafe located at 3243 Needmore Road. 

The company began transforming the Patterson Road location into Paradise Key Cafe South from Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers  in October 2016. 

>> RELATED: New name, management changes coming to Dayton restaurant (Dec. 22, 2016) 

Parr said he hoped the location would be as successful as the Needmore restaurant, which is located near Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway

That business draws from nearby manufacturing companies. 

The Patterson Road restaurant never gained traction, said Parr, who is 71 and hopes to slow down.

“It wasn’t really performing up to our expectations,” he said. Our north store, across from the racino, it really cranks.”

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The former site of Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers, located at 1060 Patterson Road in Dayton, will soon become the Paradise Key Cafe South.(Contributed)


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Dayton restaurant closes after less than 2 years 

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 3:14 PM

ARCHIVED PHOTO from 2011:  Bartender Dawn Booher, left, talks with co-owners Larry Parr, middle, and Eddie Holbrook, right, inside of  the Paradise Key Cafe  on Needmore Road in Dayton.
Teesha Mcclam/Dayton Daily News
ARCHIVED PHOTO from 2011: Bartender Dawn Booher, left, talks with co-owners Larry Parr, middle, and Eddie Holbrook, right, inside of the Paradise Key Cafe on Needmore Road in Dayton.(Teesha Mcclam/Dayton Daily News)

UPDATED: We talked with the owner of Paradise Key Cafe and learned about his plans to try to sell or reopen the business under a new concept. 

>> NEW DETAILS: Dayton restaurant up for sale

A Dayton restaurant celebrated for its chicken wings has closed one of its two Dayton locations. 

Paradise Key Cafe, 1060 Patterson Road in the Breitenstrater Plaza, has closed permanently. 

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A Facebook post from the restaurant’s chief executive officer Jennifer Lynn Jones reads as follows: 

“Public Announcement - With a heavy heart, I am sorry to announce that Paradise in Kettering has closed its doors due to under performance. When we took over, we had hoped to bring the party to this location, but we just couldn't quite get it to where it needed to be. I will miss every one of you deeply with all the laughs and good times and I hope that you will stop in, if not become a regular at our North Store which is still open. Who knows? Maybe we all can create better and more memories together there. Thank you to every one of you for being so loyal to us through all the troubles and I hope that you all will keep us in your hearts as I will surely keep you in mine.”

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The owners of the original Paradise Key Cafe located at 3243 Needmore Road in Dayton began transforming the Patterson Road location into Paradise Key Cafe South from Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers in late 2016. 

>> RELATED: New name, management changes coming to Dayton restaurant (Dec. 22, 2016) 

A message was left for management at the Needmore Road location seeking comment. 

Paradise Key’s original location is a former winner of the Miami Valley Restaurant Association’s Kickin’ Chicken Wing Festival at the Fraze.

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