Christmas in Woods traffic jam locks up Columbiana

COLUMBIANA — People getting a head start on their Christmas shopping last weekend created a traffic jam of nearly major proportions for the Columbiana area.

City Manager Lance Willard told council on Tuesday that the Christmas in the Woods festival held just outside of the city was the cause of the jam.

“We do know it was a major problem,” he said of the backup that resulted in nearly an hour of standstill traffic for some people entering or passing through the city.

The Christmas in the Woods festival is held on property along state Route 14 for two weekends in October.

The first weekend was this past Saturday and Sunday. The festival will be open to the public again this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gladis said the warm weather last Saturday was likely what drew people out in droves to the festival.

“I began to get calls on it fairly early,” he said of people calling the police department about the traffic problem. “Obviously the planning and all the execution of the parking at the entrance to the grounds is out of our hands.”

He said traffic was backed up all the way to East Palestine and North Lima.

“Our officers were on the major intersections out here trying to direct traffic, but the traffic was standing still, there was no place to direct it,” he said.

He also said he reached out to festival organizers Ken and Linda McGaffic to share the city’s concerns.

“They were very cooperative, very understanding of our problems … even though they had 20 people from the East Palestine Fire Department parking cars they got overwhelmed very quickly,” he said.

He went on to say that the McGaffics plan to have people out on the street trying to keep cars moving so traffic gridlock doesn’t happen this weekend.

He also said they plan to create additional entrances onto the property to keep cars from being on the streets. “There is going to be a wait. We hope it isn’t going to be backed up that far going into the future,” he said.

The McGaffics also organize the annual Shaker Woods and Antiques in the Woods festivals each year.