Not necessarily one that is prone to take part in community celebrations and battle big crowds these days, but still someone who enjoys the spirit of the holidays, I did not know what to expect last Friday when I departed the comfort of my home to take some pictures at the Hillsboro Uptown Christmas event, especially since I was enjoying a vacation day.
But thanks to the Hillsboro Uptown Business Association, the city of Hillsboro, and the many other people it took to pull the event off, I was pleasantly surprised, with the uptown event capping an outstanding day.
The day started quite well. I slept in a bit, finally climbed out from beneath the covers, fixed some breakfast, completed some household chores, and flipped on the TV to distract me a bit while I started a little stretching before a workout. When I flipped on the TV, there was the Clinton-Massie football team, an old Hillsboro and McClain rival in the former South Central Ohio League, getting ready to battle for a third state championship.
So, even though it was not a Highland County team on TV, there was a connection (especially for a former sports writer), and I was happy I had something of interest to watch.
When Massie took the game’s opening drive 70-plus yards in 17 to plays to take an early 7-0 lead, I thought things were looking pretty decent for the Falcons. But before long they were down 28-7 and at that point I flipped to another channel, figuring that with no passing attack to speak of, the Falcons’ chances of a comeback were more than slim.
Midway through the third quarter I flipped back to check the score and it had not changed. But about three plays later the Massie quarterback broke a long run for a touchdown and the Falcons had life.
To shorten the story, with under a minute left in the game Massie scored a touchdown to pull to within 28-27, and Falcon coach Dan McSurley immediately signaled for a two-point conversion, obviously determined to decide the game when momentum was flowing his way. The conversion was successful and a few plays later Massie collected a state championship trophy.
Even though I don’t know a player on the squad, it was a good way to start my day.
The weather was great for early December, so since my grass had somehow continued to grow since its last mowing in mid November, I decided to give it one last cut. I don’t think I have ever cut grass in December, but as I cruised around the yard I noted that I had mowed on much more nippy days this year.
By the time I finished it was time for a late lunch and shower before I headed to the Hillsboro Uptown Christmas.
And, once I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised again. The crowd and lines for the various attractions were larger than I expected. And as I walked around snapping pictures for The Times-Gazette, it was pretty cool taking in the scene of parents and grandparents — many of them personal friends — enjoying the spirit of Christmas with their smiling and laughing children and grandchildren.
There were horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers, a tree lighting, readings to children seated on hay bales of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, a place for children to visit with Santa and have their picture taken, lots of stores open, some vendors, and I even saw someone roasting what I assume were chestnuts on an open fire.
I heard someone comment that it was like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting. It was hard to do anything but agree.
In less than 15 minutes I had enough pictures to capture the magic of the evening. As I was heading back to my car to go home, my wife called. She had been working all day and arrived uptown a bit late. But it was such a heart-warming event, and the weather was so nice, that we decided to walk around town again to take in the sites before heading out to dinner with some friends.
As it turned out, I was glad I gave up a small piece of a vacation day to be part of a true community event.
Sometimes in the newspaper business we are critical of our city officials and other community members. We have to be, because it is our job to be the watchdog for the community. But on this night, the Hillsboro Uptown Business Association the city of Hillsboro, and the many others who teamed up to sponsor the event, were the ones watching out for their community, and I could not have been much more impressed.
From myself and many others, thank you!
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at [email protected] or 937-402-2522.