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Holiday Kickoff at HOF Village gets a blast of snow to start the season off

The weather was perfect for kicking off the holidays — if just cold enough to snow is the kind of weather you like for your holidays.

The reindeer definitely prefer that weather.

Kids and adults might not have been crazy about the weather, but they certainly liked the reindeer.

Saturday evening's Holiday Kickoff at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium didn't fill the venue the way it will for this weekend's Ohio High School Athletic Association football championship games, but it did draw a crowd.

It was the third try for a start of the holiday program tied to the Hall of Fame Village project, and the second at the stadium. This year, Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment and Hendrickson presented the event.

More than 800 people registered for the Spirit of the Season 5K, which started the Holiday Kickoff. Runners and walkers followed a course around the still-under-construction Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls.

Christmas and holiday songs poured from the speakers, unless interrupted by live performances from Vox Audio, and bands from Marlington and McKinley high schools.

Local retailers and vendors set up shop in the stadium. Students from several area high schools participating in Junior Achievement were among the vendors.

Families had photos taken with Santa. Children bounded through obstacle courses and agility training.

But the reindeer seemed to be the biggest attraction, with more than a few folks asking where the critters from Kleerview Farm, outside of Bellville, might be found.

Nathan Kleer's family farms 250 acres, with more of the property grazed by cattle. But 24 acres are used to grow Christmas trees. Eight years ago, the family decided to add reindeer as an attraction for customers when they show up in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

Occasionally, the Kleers take reindeer on the road. They brought 7-year-old Crystal and Nutmeg, who is only 6 months old, for young and old to pet. There was a steady stream of people wanting to meet the animals.

Urijah Manns, 6, a student at Lake Primary School, enjoyed seeing the reindeer up close. It was nearly as fun as racing through the kids zone.

"He loves football," said Wendy Manns, his aunt. "Any chance he gets, he wants to be on that," she said, pointing toward the Benson Stadium turf.

Urijah was on the field two years ago and said he hopes to be back at the stadium next year for more football and holiday fun.

Source: Edd Pritchard, The Repository


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