If you live in or around Pittsburgh, you’ve heard of Oglebay. Before there was ever Hartwood Acres (that’s the local version by North Park), there was the Oglebay Festival of Lights, just outside Wheeling, WV. And when you were a kid, it was simultaneously the most magical Christmas experience, and also one of the most stressful.
It’s magnificent because the light displays are just gorgeous, and stressful because you have to sit in such insane amounts of traffic to view them. Of course, when you were little, the best time to go was a Friday or Saturday evening… when every other family in an hour’s drive was going. You would crawl past the light displays, really getting to take your time enjoying what each had to offer, while the parent who was driving (er, holding his or her foot on the brake) would silently go insane.
So clearly, this is one of the best childhood memories you can have!
Fortunately for us, our bizarre work schedules allow us to go on weeknights when no one else is anywhere near the place. We can take as much time at each light, or we could fly right through if we felt so inclined. And, most importantly, a trip to Oglebay is an excuse to have dinner at Bob Evans.
There is a Bob Evans just outside the start of the light route, and perhaps even more exciting than the Christmas joy is the chance to eat one of their yummy dinners. Bob Evans is one of the best restaurants of its type (sorry, Denny’s!), but because it’s so easy to overindulge, we only rarely go there. Oglebay night is one of those times.
And why do we love Bob Evans so much? Because they have the best dinner rolls in the entire world. They are buttery and sweet and melt-in-your-mouth good. These delicious buns come to you fresh and hot out of the oven, smelling like a bed and breakfast in the country. I wish I could eat them every day. I swear, I would never get tired of them!
Michael took this picture because I always refer to Bob Evans as ‘Bob Evans Down on the Farm,’ as in, “Hey, let’s have breakfast at Bob Evans Down on the Farm,” as if it were its full name. I was totally proved right: it is on the creamer.
After filling up on salads and our dinners (for the record, aside from those buttery buns, Bob Evans has some really healthy selections on their menu), we were off to the show, in Wheeling, the City of Lights! And also funeral homes. What poor sign placement.
Oglebay isn’t just about the light show, however. They also have the Good Zoo, which is a small-scale, but nice zoo. This is my standard picture in front of the Good Zoo, posing like a flamingo. We didn’t have time to stop in this year, and my favorite part of the Good Zoo is no longer there – we were informed when we went in 2008 that the reindeer had to be removed from the zoo because of something that sounded similar to AIDS wasting syndrome (the reindeer edition). Sad!
And finally, the super-neat snowflake tunnel. This was always probably the most magical part of the drive when we were kids. Now, I’m pretty sure the most magical part is listening to my Christmas mix tape with all the sad Christmas songs (Michael loves those!) while we drive through, then getting even sadder listening to Delilah After Dark on the radio on the way back to Pittsburgh!
Can’t wait for next Christmas to do it all over again!!