By Nick Dekker
Posted On: Nov 30, 2020
In a year like no other, Ohioans are having to balance COVID safety procedures while also finding ways to support local businesses. Luckily, many small towns and shopping districts are creating safe and socially distanced ways to shop this holiday season, like Hamilton's Holly Jolly Hamilton.
Holly Jolly Hamilton
Starting in late November and extending through New Year's Day, Holly Jolly Hamilton features special events and sales all up and down historic Main Street and High Street. Shoppers are treated to holiday light displays, live music and other socially distanced holiday festivities.
Here's the schedule of special events for the rest of the season:
- Nov. 28: Small Business Saturday
- Dec. 2: Ornament Crawl
- Dec. 5: Light Up German Village and Treat Yo' Elf
- Dec. 11: YWCA Gingerbread Walk
- Dec. 12: Joy to the 'Wald
- Dec. 13: Winter Market
- Dec. 18-19: That's a Wrap
My family and I visited in late November during Music On Main, a Friday evening when DJs, brass bands, and singer-songwriters filled the urban core with music. The whole experience felt safe, from masks, to widened sidewalks allowing more space, to little details like Santa and Mrs. Claus waving to cars as they drive by.
We started the evening by getting carryout from All8Up, a local pizza and sub shop. We took our calzones, subs and salads and found a table in Rotary Park, where we enjoyed a little music while we ate. Afterwards we explored and admired the murals and sculptures in Rotary Park and the surrounding streets.
Downtown Hamilton is also a DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area), meaning you can pick up drinks at participating businesses and then stroll the district with them. We love Municipal Brew Works, right on High Street next to the river. It's all housed in the old Art Deco municipal building. We snagged an Anniversary Series #4 double IPA and a Going Viral seltzer, then walked across the bridge to Main Street.
This area was buzzing with activity with more music and restaurants serving meals to-go. we check out Fleurish Home, which is the perfect place for home décor, paint supplies and other gifts. We finally selected a piece of art featuring four figures crafted from small stones.
Next was a nostalgic look at Future Great Comics. Owner Brian LeVick has a selection of comic books, action figures and other paraphernalia. I took home a selection of Star Wars and Spider-Man comics for our two boys.
We wanted a little sweet treat during our walk, so we visited The Village Parlor, an old school ice cream shop that's been part of the community since 1969. Our boys savored giant scoops of ice cream on waffle cones.
We continued with a little window shopping and stopping to admire the music playing along the street (my favorite was the little brass band doing Christmas carols), then checked out Unsung Salvage Design Company. They feature an eclectic mix of clothing, home décor items, T-shirt printing and other knick-knacks. We took home some funny plush Santa ornaments for our boys.
But our night wasn't over yet! We jumped in the car and drove across the river to Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park.
Journey Borealis at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
We love Pyramid Hill, and visit it any time we're in Hamilton. Normally, we'd rent an "art cart" (aka a golf cart) at the visitors center, then roll amongst the 300 hilly acres and admire the 60+ sculptures nestled in the landscape.
Every evening from now through Jan. 3, Pyramid Hill is host to Journey Borealis, a drive-thru holiday light show. The displays are perfect for a socially distanced holiday drive with your family. It’s $20 per carload Monday-Thursday, $25 Friday-Sunday (if you’re a Pyramid Hill member, it's $15). They give you a QR code at the front gate, which you scan to download the app. Then you connect the app to your car's sound system and listen to the custom playlist performed by the Cincinnati Boys Choir and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
The display delights with a fantastic collection of moving and static lights, projections, and other funny discoveries, all of which is designed to fit with the music. Depending on how fast you go, the whole display takes maybe 30 minutes to drive through.
Shop local this holiday season! Many more cities and neighborhoods are offering special (safe and virtual) shopping events, from A Ticket to Christmas in Bellefontaine (Dec. 4), to Illuminated Shopping in Worthington (Dec. 9), and Festivus in Franklinton’s 400 Square (Dec. 11-13).