Old Blue Eyes casts his piercing gaze across the red-walled dining room as the opening strains of “Strangers in the Night” drift into the ears of diners seated at tables dressed in white linens. The aura of a refined 1960s club permeates every nook and cranny of Trattoria Roma, thanks in part to the assortment of framed Sinatra records and photos displayed behind the bar and the ever-present Rat Pack tunes playing throughout the day. Since its opening 22 years ago, the eatery's owners have fostered a cozy-yet-refined atmosphere bolstered by authentic Roman cuisine forged from local ingredients. This tradition continued eight years ago when veteran employee Shawn Mason took over the restaurant’s reigns from the original owners. Though he brought his own brand of hospitality to the mix, he made sure to uphold the kitchen’s tradition of high culinary standards.
As Shawn cheerfully chats with regulars scattered throughout the dining room and at the bar, his partner, chef Matthew Prokopchak, can be found architecting Italian eats with his crew in the kitchen. Having grown up learning the conventions of Italian cooking from his mother and aunts, chef Matthew integrates some of his family’s recipes into the menu, imbuing his dishes with a sense of history and tradition. He assembles his arsenal of fresh produce –from lush tomatoes to fragrant basil– from local farms. While the menu remains largely unchanged throughout the year, each night the friendly service staff sidles up to tables to detail the day's seasonal specials via verbal recitations or interpretive dances.
Amid the dining room’s ruby walls, a series of Orfeo Tamburi lithographs depicting post-WWII Rome––reportedly the only complete Tamburi collection in the United States––hang in elegant frames. The décor works in concert with the savory wafts of garlic emanating from the bustling kitchen to evoke a vintage Italian atmosphere.
Since 1983, families have spent their holidays around the television, watching A Christmas Story and joining in the triumphs and failures of 9-year-old Ralphie as he struggles to secure a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa's bag. Although the cult-classic film showed Ralphie living in Indiana, the house in which the movie took place rests in Cleveland—and is now a museum. When MSNBC interviewed lifelong fan and A Christmas Story House & Museum owner Brian Jones, they profiled the story of how he found the house on eBay and jumped at the chance to own it. Today, he’s turned it into a year-round place of pilgrimage for fans and the site of an occasionally-held convention for Ralphies.
Jones’s restoration has returned rooms to exactly how they were in the film, letting guests gaze at the tinsel-strewn tree with its star falling off and explore the bathroom where Ralphie’s mouth was washed out with soap—a time-tested method for cavity prevention. Visitors can even attempt to hide like little Randy in the cabinet under the sink. After seeing the backyard that still houses the original shed, where Ralphie defended his family against Black Bart, fans head across the street to the A Christmas Story House & Museum. Here, original props such as the toys from the Higbee’s department-store window, Randy’s snowsuit, and Miss Shields’s classroom chalkboard join other memorabilia and hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos. Before leaving, guests drop into the gift shop to pick up a leg lamp just like the one Ralphie's old man cherished so dearly.
Scallywag Tag's arena dazzles eyes with a black-lit, neon-tinged pirate ship and 18th-century Caribbean village, which provides a labyrinth of fluorescent walls for marauding swashbucklers. After being split into two competing crews, participants receive a vest, a phaser, and instructions to tally as many points as possible by tagging opponents, swarming the enemy's home base, or holding a referee hostage until he or she doctors the score. The score itself is broadcast on wide-screen LCD scoreboards, but those who are too busy taking out the adversary to look at them can take heart knowing that at the end of the game, the referees announce the winning team.
Outside the fast-paced laser-tag arena, Scallywag Tag encourages visitors to recharge with a drink or a slice of pizza from the snack bar. The arcade sections also distract patrons by featuring perennial classics such as air hockey as well as new favorites, including Time Crisis 3 and Find That W2 Form.
The West-side location additionally lures younger passersby with a pirate-themed jump house and a 35-foot-long slide in the family entertainment center. The West-side’s black-light miniature golf tests hand-eye coordination skills, leading guests through a gauntlet of 18 holes that similarly embrace the pirate theme.
Like a camera obscura built around a dinner table, Home Slice Pizza stays forever focused on its cuisine. Within the brick-lined establishment’s kitchen, chefs toss and fire large and extra-large thin-crust pizzas topped with ingredients as classic as pepperoni and anchovies or as original as artichoke hearts, seasoned steak, and A1 sauce. Under this flavor ornamentation lies the pizzas’ true foundation: cheese. Blends of mozzarella, feta, ricotta, cheddar, parmesan, and romano provide a solid base for creative ingredient combinations and add a gooey warmth to every bite. Not content to be confined to pizzas alone, cheese also douses orders of pan-baked cheese bread and supports focaccia subs flecked with herbs and stuffed with hot ham, turkey, bacon, and veggies.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.
On October 5, 1905, years of invention and failure culminated into history as Wilbur Wright took to the sky in a craft that soared through the air for 24 miles. More than a century later, just a few miles from the field over which it first flew, the 1905 Wright Flyer III—now designated a National Historic Landmark—spreads its wings at Carillon Historical Park, inspiring visitors with its tale of innovation, persistence, and progress, and the aptly named "Wilbur Wright: A Life of Consequence" exhibit. Nearby, the park's Heritage Center features the year-round Carousel of Dayton Innovation, which contains 31 figures, a 38-foot hand-painted mural illustrating the turn of events in the Wright Brothers flying exhibits, and rides for $1.
As impressive as they are, the airplane and carousel are only a few of Carillon Historical Park’s myriad attractions. Named for the 151-foot-tall Deeds Carillon, whose 57 bells have been pealing since 1942, the campus spreads across 65 acres. Just south of downtown, 30 historical buildings, including the 28,000 sq.ft. Heritage Center of Dayton Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship, draw visitors into Dayton’s past and share in the park's devotion to history, heritage, and progress. Early settlement structures such as the Newcom Tavern—the oldest building still standing in Dayton—sit alongside other original buildings such as an 1815-era stone cottage. The park also includes replica buildings, such as the Deeds Barn and the Wright Cycle Shop, which recreate the birthplaces of the automobile self-starter and the airplane.
The park’s transportation theme continues with an 1835 B&O steam locomotive and an interactive 1/8 scale railroad available to ride on select days for an extra fee and whose train cars carry passengers more effectively than 1/8 scale feet would. Nearby, the first Chevy S-10 truck minted by GM’s Moraine Plant in 1988 mingles with a fleet of vintage and classic autos. After admiring their hulls, visitors can swing by Culp’s Café—named and modeled after the eatery where widow and mother of six Charlotte Gilbert Culp served pies in the '30s and '40s—and order burgers or soda-fountain creations off a '40s-style menu. Before leaving, guests can peruse Wright brothers paraphernalia and items from the park’s 1930s letterpress printing shop at the museum store or sign up for educational programming that teaches lost arts such as candle dipping and butter churning.