Sunday, November 30, 2003

Downtown festivities stir old, new memories

Fountain Square a holiday tradition for some families

By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Dave Giegler of Florence gives his son Matt Giegler of Macon, Ga., a push as Matt's foster child Destiny Savage, 6, skates close to the ice on Fountain Square Saturday.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
DOWNTOWN - Someday Will Sweeney will think about what he did Saturday.

The 6-year-old tyke from Hyde Park will have holiday memories of meeting Santa Claus, sipping a steaming cup of hot chocolate and getting a bright new red hat.

But most of all, he will remember Fountain Square: Twinkling white lights. Horse-drawn carriages. The first time he tried ice skating.

For many people, a visit downtown is the only way to soak up the holiday season. The square is magic - the bulbs glow brighter, the air is crisper and the Christmas tree seems ever so tall. Even in frosty weather, it feels almost as cozy as a yuletide fire.

It's a new practice for Will's father, John Sweeney, 37, who hadn't been downtown for about five years. Then he and daughter Lucy, 8, swung by on Friday night to pick up some carry-out for dinner.

They ended up staying four hours. The two enjoyed the Light Up the Square event, went ice-skating, shopped at Tower Place Mall and took a carriage ride.

Sweeney had so much fun, he brought his son the next day. "I think we'll be making this a tradition."

Mike and Tammy Waggoner of Independence make an annual trip to the square, to the delight of their 2-year-old daughter Makenzie.

"It's easy to get caught up in the spirit downtown," said Mike, 26, as Makenzie waved a tiny mittened hand at ice skaters circling the rink.

For Alison Rea, 31, this is a time to revisit her childhood.

She remembers winter nights downtown as a young girl - staring at the Christmas village in the storefront windows of Shillito's.

Rea returned to the square on Saturday with her parents, Roger and Sharon Brummett of Anderson Township. But now she was also joined by husband Michael and their three children.

"I love showing them the things I grew up with," she said. "That's what the season is about - sharing things with family."


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