The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mills


I’d never heard of Clifton Mills before I saw a press release for it. I saw that it was near Yellow Springs, Ohio, a cute little artsy town that Tri-Staters like to visit. The pictures were stunning. It looked like a beautiful light display to go see. So my boyfriend and I made plans to spend a Saturday evening there. We’d already experienced a Christmas event that was pre-electricity; an old-fashioned Christmas past. That evening, we’d spend time in the present.

We’d head a couple hours north to see the the light display. The weather wasn’t too bad. Clear, but really cold. Still, only two more weekends to spend with people you love celebrating Christmas in different ways. Lots of couples and families and groups of friends felt the same exact way. There were thousands of people there, crunched into a fenced area w-a-yyy too small for the Christmas-cramming crowd.


Most of the people smushed into gridlock were all muttering the same conversations to each other: they should have limited the number of people.” “It’s never usually like this. This is not how it usually is.” “If I’d known it would be this crowded, I wouldn’t have come tonight.” And all of us with a shrug that we were here now. We’d try to enjoy it.

There was nothing unenjoyable about the lights and festivities themselves. They were fun, family-friendly winter festivities, lights, and Santa events. The historic mill, the waterwheel, the covered bridge, and the barns were decked in lights. A train chugged through a garden of lighted tracks.


And Santa’s Workshop cabin was there, full of elves making toys. You could peek inside the window and see Santa checking his list of toys, getting ready for Christmas Eve.


Every 15 minutes, Santa would appear in the top of the chimney, calling “Ho-ho’ho, Merry Christmas” to the crowds, and then he disappeared down the fireplace.


Inside the Old Mill restaurant, you could order counter service hot food like sandwiches, pretzels, hot chocolate and other warm goodies to eat in the restaurant with windows views of the spinning waterwheel and Christmas lights covering the banks of the stream.


It was part festival, part history, part food, part shopping — wrapped in a display of lights and trains and Santa Claus to the delight of everyone. We were all there to be lured into the Christmas spirit, and we were. Because we were all there with people we loved and loved/hated that everyone else had the same idea, too.

If only we could have gone on a weeknight. I’ll bet that would have been even nicer.

Where did you encounter crowds this holiday season?

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A Peek Inside Santa's Workshop.jpg


18 responses to “The Legendary Lights of Clifton Mills

  1. Looks fun, Juliann, although I am a bit nervous about tightly packed crowds. Lights appeared beautiful. Peggy and I headed over to Busch Gardens outside of St. Petersburg, Florida on Sunday. We are here visiting with out son and his family before heading up to Charlotte, NC to be with our daughter and her family on Christmas. Lots of folks at the gardens but they were well decorated. Plus they have a wonderful open-land zoo. My post tomorrow is all about monkey-business. ๐Ÿ™‚ โ€“Curt

  2. Even though it was busy, it looks like a really fun Christmas activity! I love Christmas lights and hot chocolate! I encountered crowds at the Christmas market in Vienna and just like you they were so busy on the weekends and perfectly manageable during the week!

  3. I encountered holiday crowds driving across I-Drive today. I should have cut through Universal instead. We are going to Disney Springs for Christmas Eve so there might be some crowd action going on there too.

    After our bike ride to Clifton Mills, Jenn said I love you to me for the first time. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Clifton Mills.

  4. I have not run into any as I go into hibernation this time of the year. I am not a fan at all of the holidays, and less so of crowds! However, I recognize there are some truly beautiful spots to see Christmas lights! I have a street in my community that every single house decorates, it’s even in the contract when they buy a home on that street!

  5. Well, the lights are lovely. But if I’d seen that crowd of people, I’d have run in the opposite direction. I had a very frightening big crowd experience near the Arc de Triomphe on Bastille Day when I was seventeen and I avoid large crowds whenever I can.

  6. Omg these holiday lights displays are stunning! We are pretty good at holiday lights in the Midwest, aren’t we? ๐Ÿ™‚ My family always does a neighborhood roadtrip around the holidays to look at the lights. Sadly we forgot to do it til it was too late this year!!

  7. Wow those light displays are unbeatable! I couldn’t think of any place that is more festive than Clifton Mills! This year we went to Scottsdale and participated in some Christmas events but it wasn’t as magnificent as that!

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