Christmas with Gordon and Connie

Spend a warm moment with Gordon and Connie Ward as they introduce us to Christmas in Sylvania.

Sylvania, Ohio is a special place to be during the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.  This is one indisputable constant that has remained in full force from the early 1800s until the present day.


Gordon and Connie Ward have lived here since 1958, and they have many warm memories of Christmas in Sylvania.

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“We went to every Christmas concert at Hillview, then Arbor Hills, and then Northview when the kids were growing up,” shared Gordon Ward, now 96 years old.  

 

The Wards raised their four children in Sylvania, and the couple still lives in the same house that Gordon bought and moved into when he was hired to work at WTOL in 1958.  When the two met, Connie was on Romper Room as “Miss Judy,” and Gordon was the TV news anchor.  They made history in 1962 when their wedding took place on live television.


While their children were young, the Wards got up early every Christmas and drove to Grandma and Grandpa Ward’s home to open presents with cousins, aunts and uncles.  Later on they began a special tradition for Christmas Eve.


“We always spent Christmas Eve at church,” said Connie, now 88 years old.  “The last thing we did was to sing Silent Night, with everybody holding a candle.”


“The choir back in those days was huge,” recalled Gordon.  “They encircled the entire sanctuary while they sang with candles in their hands.  The lights were dimmed and then went out completely, and there was just candlelight.  When they sang the “Amen” everybody just raised their candle, and that was the end of the service.  We all walked out in silence.”

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The Wards said that they were not able to enjoy their Christmas Eve tradition last year for the first time, because of the pandemic. They do not know if they will be able to do it this year, for Christmas 2021, but they still have other traditions to enjoy with their family and friends, which is something Connie advises others to do as well.


“Find a way to be with family.  If it’s not blood-related, try to get with other people who you love, friends you love, and spend time with them,” advised Connie.  “To me, there’ s nothing like sharing with another person.  Listening, and also sharing.  So find a way to develop family, in some way, that you can share the moment with.”


The Wards fondly recall many special times with friends and neighbors in Sylvania, especially Flanders Bog, a big event back in its heyday that even caught the attention of Better Homes and Gardens, and resulted in a national feature on the Sylvania neighborhood’s annual affair.  But at Christmastime the town seems to sparkle a little more in all four corners of the city and township.


“We always drive around and spot the neighborhoods where the fancy lighting is,” said Gordon. “Downtown Sylvania has done a beautiful job with the lights on Main Street, that’s worth seeing.”


At their home, the Wards create their own festive display.


“We always decorated a live tree for Christmas, but it was outside, planted out front,” said Gordon.  “My dad had grown it from a seedling, but it finally died.  I bought another then to replace it, but I backed into it with the riding mower.  It’s growing back, a little lopsided.  We broke down and bought an artificial tree for inside the house.”


Gordon has his own advice to offer for having a joyful Christmas in Sylvania.


“Try not to get so busy that you’re working under tension,” said the TV news legend.  “Try to stay loose, and enjoy it.”

Merry Christmas!

(Book excerpt; Introduction of Christmas in Sylvania)

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Gordon and Connie Ward 2020

Gordon and Connie Ward enjoying their weekly trip to Sautter's Market in Sylvania.

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Gordon and Connie

In 1962, Gordon and Connie Ward made television history when they were married on the air.

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Gordon