Dayton’s Not Dead: Carillon Park Lights return for fourth season

Carillon Park, Dayton. Photograph: Soham Parikh/The Guardian

Last Wednesday marked the opening day of Dayton’s newest Christmas tradition. A Carillon Christmas, started in 2015, is a nearly month-long celebration featuring live music, train rides and thousands of Christmas lights which illuminate the skies above.

The event is hosted in the Carillon Historical Park, located at 1000 Carillon Blvd. in downtown Dayton. It will run until Sunday, Dec. 30.

Carillon Historical Park has been a significant piece of Dayton’s history since it was first opened in 1950. Founded in 1940 by Colonel Edward Andrew Deeds and wife Edith Walton Deeds, it is the home to historical buildings and artifacts specific to the Dayton area.

Alex Heckman, vice president of Dayton History, said that it was the intention of Colonel Deeds to highlight how Dayton had “contributed to world progress and international achievements.”

“That is still the focus today,” Heckman said.

In Wright Hall, one of the historical buildings located on the 65-acre campus of Carillon Historical Park, visitors can observe more original Wright Brothers artifacts than anywhere else in the world, said Heckman.

All buildings at Carillon Park will have extended hours throughout the duration of A Carillon Christmas.

Carillon Park’s rich history does not end there. On Christmas Eve of 1941, 17 days after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, an impromptu Christmas concert was held at Carillon Park in remembrance of those lost in the military strike, according to Carillon Historical Park’s Facebook page.

“Now a signature sound in the Miami Valley, the 1941 Christmas concert marked the first time the Dayton community experienced the beautiful ring of the carillon bells,” the page reads.

A Carillon Christmas opened with its centerpiece – the illumination of the Carillon Tree of Light. The Deeds Carillon is transformed into the Tree of Light during the holiday season. The structure stands at about 200 feet tall, with about 20,000 lights surrounding it in the shape of a tree. It is both the largest carillon and tree of light in Ohio.

“We were looking for new ways to attract people here to the museum,” Heckman said. “There are people that have lived in the greater Dayton region their entire lives that don’t realize how much is here.”

Attendees will also have the opportunity to enjoy the 1850s-style brewery, puppet shows, Victorian carolers, photos with Santa Claus, over 15 miles of Christmas lights and so much more.

A Carillon Christmas is open from Sunday to Thursday from 5-9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 5-10 p.m. It is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Admission runs at $10 per adult (ages 18-59), $9 per senior (ages 60+), $7 per child (ages 3-17) and free for children under three years and for Dayton History members. There is no charge to visit the Carillon Tree of Light.