More than 18 years ago after attending a winter event at the Cincinnati Zoo, Jan McInturf of McInturf Realty was sure that beautiful Tuscora Park would make the perfect location for a winter family celebration. In December 1997, McInturf Realty held its first annual Christmas In the Park, open to the community.
The event continues to grow each year and includes horse-drawn carriage rides through Story Book Lane, a live nativity complete with professional actors and animals, live reindeer, hundreds of candlelit luminaries, musical entertainment, strolling costumed characters, carousel and train rides, face painting, balloon sculpting, pictures with Santa, decorating cookies in Mrs. Claus' kitchen, an ice sculptor and refreshments.
Tuscora Park is absolutely beautiful with the decorated lamp posts and thousands of lights outlining all the buildings. As the event grows, so does the number of people in the community who assist making the event a tremendous. success. This holiday event is McInturf Realty's gift to the community.
Because of the amazing popularity of this event, and the fact that it has become yet another beautiful attraction taking place in Tuscora Park, the First Town Days Festival Committee decided to honor the celebration as well as those responsible in this year's souvenir plate design.
The scene has been beautifully recreated by popular local artist Christy (Reed) Bloom, who will be on hand to autograph the first five auctioned plates Thursday, July 3rd at 6:30 P.M. at the Al Maloney Midway Stage.
The first five plates sold for a combined $2,100. This year's plate, designed by Christy Bloom, features scenes from Christmas in the Park. The annual holiday celebration in Tuscora Park has been organized by McInturf Reality in New Philadelphia since 1997.
Once the plate auction began, Bob Smith of Dover claimed the top plate for $1,300 after strong competition from Jan McInturf, who then purchased the second plate for $400. McInturf paid $150 for the fifth plate on behalf of his children - Taylor, Tessa, Roman and Evan McInturf. John James, of New Philadelphia, paid $100 for the third plate, with the fourth plate going for $150 to Jax Towing in New Philadelphia.
This marks more than a decade that Smith has purchased the festival's No. 1 plate. "Traditionally, we've gotten the first plate, and we're just really glad to be part of all the area festivals," Smith said. "We support them all. To us, it's a nice way to participate in the festival, and knowing the money goes to scholarships, it's just a fun way to participate and support the (First Town Days Festival) scholarship program." Smith said his latest purchase will become part of a display of festival plates in the Smith Ambulance office in Dover.
McInturf called it an honor for Christmas in the Park to be the plate's theme this year. He said the annual event takes a lot of work and dedication by many people. "We don't do it for this kind of thing," McInturf said about the event's recognition at the festival. "It's nice when you are recognized, but we do (Christmas in the Park) to give back to the community."