At Vail Meadows Equestrian Center, experienced trainers employ a holistic approach to horseback riding and instruction to help riders to develop life skills and live healthfully. Its 25-acre farm abuts the Maumee Bay State Park bridle trails, allowing riders to explore tree-laden mazes in addition to open pastures. Ducks, goats, and pot-bellied pigs roam the landscape, peeking into the historic 1893 barn while students improve concentration and problem-solving skills through therapeutic sessions. In another barn, beginners bond with new four-legged friends over the western riding techniques they have just mastered. Programming also includes riding opportunities for veterans, field trips for classes of students, and weekend horse camps for teens and adolescents. During camp sessions, young visitors participate in farming- and nature-related learning adventures before retiring to a warm indoor bunk, preventing them from having to rely on starlight to read copies of The Iliad written in hieroglyphics.
For 129 years, the farmhouse at Country Lane Tree Farm has looked out over acres of trees and crops as they bear fruit, change colors, and catch a light dusting of snow. The Bowlander family keeps the land bustling through the seasons by inviting families and school groups to come take part in farm activities. Craft barn events happen in the spring and summer, along with farm tours where children can see and interact with a variety of animals. Activities include, milking cows, holding chickens and ducks, and gazing profoundly into the deep eyes of Peaches the donkey. Animal feed is also included. During the fall, the Bowlanders make an enormous maze out of their cornfield, invite guests to pick pumpkins from their 10-acre patch, and enjoy a Haunted Hayride and the indoor Haunted "Carnevil" Barn.
School Matters helps students at Toledo Public Schools and Toledo charter schools assemble a new outfit or uniform from an inventory of decorous clothes for boys, girls, and 10-year-old headmasters. For gents, crisp Dickies pair nicely with polos and sweater vests, whereas girls can round out their own navy cardigans with brown plaid skirts or slacks. Jackets featuring characters such as Spongebob and Disney princesses add a touch of whimsy to the classic ensembles.
Ken Cappelletty and Fred Moor, the men who man Ken’s Flower Shops, didn’t grow up dreaming about buds and stems. Raised by a local policeman, Ken likely spent more time playing cops and robbers than sniffing the neighbor’s rosebushes. It wasn’t until he helmed the cash register at a neighborhood florist in L.A. that he discovered his knack for design. Here, he started to see flowers as more than just plants, viewing them as art supplies that happen to smell nice. When Ken returned to Ohio, his parents helped him launch a small shop that arranged blooms in the morning and delivered them in the afternoon. Two years later, in 1967, his friend Fred took some of the reins, helping him grow the business into three local stores affiliated with FTD and Teleflora. From this labor of love, a legacy began to take root. At each shop, seasoned designers incorporate customers’ requests into birthday bouquets, wedding corsages, and gift baskets filled with wine, house-baked cookies, and stuffed toys cute enough to melt hearts and plush enough to sop up the mess. Their talent and creativity takes center stage as well, whether they’re filling vases with orchids, crafting wreaths from roses, or building bouquets from singing balloons. To this day, Fred often answers the phones, discerning customers’ style preferences from friendly chats rather than pilfered diary pages. To make giving easy as getting, the shop’s wares can be delivered locally or internationally, seven days a week.
The gardening experts at Black Diamond, Inc. have dispensed seedlings and seedpods, as well as wisdom on coaxing blossoms and branches from each, for more than half a century. Rather than just pairing visitors with plants to plop into the ground, they strive to understand individual gardening needs. They troubleshoot issues unique to each customer's landscape and impart advice about which plants play well with which fertilizers and insecticides, and which will end up calling each other names and refusing to share their LEGOs. The green-thumbed staffers grow a wealth of their own bedding plants and nursery stock, and they acquire the rest from local growers. This lets them assemble dozens of annuals and perennials, a wealth of pepper and tomato varieties, and a bevy of shrubs and ornamental trees that keep yards shady enough for pet ice cubes to play outside. Customers can also avail themselves of landscape design and maintenance services, which tap into the skills and experience of professionals.
Costume Holiday House's inventory of wigs, makeup, suits, and party supplies enables costume changes ranging from spooky to comical. Customers can dress themselves as everything from pop-culture icons to terrifying specters and macabre forms, and an ample supply of wigs and accessories form the basis of inventive costumes that don’t require full-body suits or rubber masks. In addition to wearable Halloween goods, the shop also sells fog machines and animated props that set the stage for monster mashes and haunted houses. Costume Holiday House accommodates dress-up even in the Halloween off-season, with theater costume rentals for schools and community plays, or Second Skin colored bodysuits for showing team spirit at a baseball game or camouflaging into the green-screen background at local commercial shoots.