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Friday, November 15, 2019

Deck the Beer Hall

Here’s an untraditional way of embracing a tradition: Help decorate a 25-foot Christmas tree.

Forest City Brewery is holding its 5th Annual Deck the Beer Hall Tree Trimming Party from 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 29, aka Black Friday. If hitting big-box stores at an ungodly hour or watching college football marathons doesn't appeal to you, this might be a good alternative.  

Admission to the party is an ornament for the brewery’s tree. In return you get a Forest City Brewery ornament for your own tree. 

But that’s not all. Sinatra CLE will entertain party-goers with holiday songs, and Forest City will release its Shinny Spiced Belgian Quad Holiday Ale. At first I thought this was a typo. But as the brewery explains online, “shinny” refers to street hockey or pond hockey, and the draft is said to warm you up after a game.

Of course, there will be lots of other beers available during the party, along with appetizers. But wait, you might be thinking, suddenly this isn’t sounding so cheap. Well, guess what. You can bring in your own food! 

The brewery at 2135 Columbus Road even offers a couple of suggestions on its website. The West Side Market is “up the street” at West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue and Sainato’s at Rivergate is down the hill at 1852 Columbus (plus it delivers).

You could get the party started early at Sainato’s. The restaurant’s happy hour goes from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and the menu includes a 9-inch one-topping pizza for $5. 

Note: The West Side Market will close at 6 that night, but Sainato’s will be open until midnight.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Have S'more Fun

If you’re a fan of the fireside treat that melds graham crackers, chocolate and melted marshmallows, you’ll want to check out S’morefest 2019.

Besides all you can eat of the namesake snack, a $20 ticket to Friday's fest at
Merwin’s Wharf will let you warm up around cozy fire pits and enjoy live music from 6-9 p.m. November weather in Cleveland can be unpredictable, so you might not need to warm up. But it’s nice to know the fire pits are available just in case.

Admission is $10 for anyone ages 5-18, who will each get a s’more package. Kids younger than 5 are admitted free, but no s’mores for them.

S’morefest 2019 is a fundraiser for Brite Winter, a wintertime artist showcase in Cleveland.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Wild Winter Lights

Can’t get enough holiday lights? Would a million of them be enough?

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo says its new Wild Winter Lights event will have more than a million lights. This is not your typical holiday light display. Wild Winter Lights will offer more than a dozen interactive zones, each with its own twist on holiday festivities. My favorite, for its name alone, is the A-Roar-A Borealis, the zoo’s version of the Northern Lights.

Wild Winter Lights opens Nov. 22 and runs through Jan. 5. In November, it’s being held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. It will expand in December to include Thursdays and a couple of Mondays. Hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on each date.

Besides admission to Wild Winter Lights, tickets include free rides on Circle of Wildlife Carousel, showings of “The Polar Express” in the 4-D Theater, a light show on Waterfowl Lake and a visit with Santa. Tickets do not include admission to the zoo.

Buying tickets in advance is recommended. The prices are cheaper and tickets might not be available at the box office on the date you want to attend the event. Advance tickets for Wild Winter Lights are $15.50 per person for zoo members and $18.50 per person for others. Box office tickets are $20.50 per person. All children under 2 are admitted free. 

You can save even more by buying a four pack of advance tickets for $50. Box office four packs are $60. The four pack is the best option for most people, but do the math before you buy tickets.

Four people splitting the cost of the $50 four pack would pay $12.50 each and four splitting the cost of the $60 four pack would pay $15 each.

But take a family of four with one child under 2 and an older child. A $50 four pack is the best deal even though the younger child would be admitted free. Three individual tickets at $18.50 apiece would total $55.50. 

That same family would pay $60 for a box office four pack or $61.50 for three individual tickets. That’s not as much of a discount, but a buck’s a buck, right? Or in this case, a buck fifty.

However, a family of four with two children under 2 would be better off buying two individual tickets, either in advance for a total of $37 or at the box office for a total of $41. A single parent with three children under the age of 2 is probably too exhausted to attend Wild Winter Lights at any price.

Those scenarios assume the families are not zoo members. Members also save money by getting advance tickets, but the amount depends on their membership level.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Free Opportunity

We’ve all been hearing and reading (a lot) about the November 2020 election. That’s understandable, given that we’ll be voting on presidential and congressional candidates, among others, a year from now. But we can’t let next year’s election overshadow those preceding it, including today’s.

Here in Northeast Ohio, voters will decide on tax levies and among numerous candidates vying for seats on school boards and city councils and for offices including mayor.

If you didn’t vote early at your Board of Elections or by mail, you can cast a ballot at your local precinct today between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Find out what’s on your ballot here.

Voting costs you nothing but a bit of your time. Not voting costs you and everyone else with a stake in the election’s outcome much more.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Dia de los Muertos

For something celebrating the dead, this weekend's events sure sound lively.

Saturday’s Dia de Muertos Ohio will include live — as opposed to dead — music, dance, food and fun activities for kids. But the highlight is sure to be, as event organizers describe it, “the ever-popular Procession of Skulls & Skeletons Parade,” from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Registration for participants ended on Halloween, but anyone can watch the parade in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District.

As explained on, Day of the Dead is celebrated Nov. 1 and 2 and is not related to Halloween. It is said that on Nov. 1, children who have died come back to visit and celebrate as angelitos. The next day, deceased adults show up for the festivities. “It’s not somber but celebratory,” the website says of the holiday.

Saturday’s free event, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Cleveland Public Theatre, 6205 Detroit Ave., and the surrounding area, is just one local Day of the Dead celebration. Dia de los Muertos, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Sand Run Metro Park’s Mingo Lodge in Akron, has a different vibe. Admission to the 21-and-over event is $25. Your ticket gets you a light dinner, music, a naturalist’s theme-inspired program and, weather permitting, indoor and outdoor fires.

You can start celebrating tonight at Hedge Gallery in 78th Street Studios, where Barrio Day of the Dead will go from 7 to 11 p.m. Your $25 ticket covers two drinks and two Barrio tacos. But save room for samples of sugar skull chocolates from Fear’s Confections and Day of the Dead flavor ice cream from Sweet Moses. Each guest also will get a Modelo Especial pint glass as a gift on the way out.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Going Back in Time

The Cleveland Indians aren’t part of this year’s postseason, which is disappointing to all of us who root for them. While we’re looking forward to next season, we can also look back on the team’s history in a new book. 

“Ultimate Cleveland Indians Time Machine Book” covers the players and events that are part of Cleveland’s baseball past. Author Marty Gitlin will discuss the book Saturday at the Baseball Heritage Museum at League Park. The free talk begins at 1 p.m.

Gitlin, an award-winning journalist who covered the Indians during some of their best years, will answer audience members’ questions after his talk. He’ll also have books for sale that will include personalized autographs.

League Park, at East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue, is where the Indians played before they moved permanently to Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the precursor to Jacobs/Progressive Field. The field has been restored and the former ticket office has been turned into a museum.

Before the franchise now known as the Indians became a charter member of the American League in 1901, League Park was the home of the Cleveland Spiders, a National League team. The Spiders played the first game at League Park in 1891, beating Cincinnati 12-3.

The ballpark was the site of the 1920 World Series, which the Indians won against the Brooklyn Robins (later renamed the Dodgers). Hall of Famers including Cy Young, Tris Speaker, Lou Gehrig and Ty Cobb played at League Park, and Babe Ruth hit his 500th career home run there in 1929.

Register for Saturday’s event here. The museum will be open after Gitlin’s talk in the Visitors Center, and I recommend visiting it, even if you’ve been there before. The exhibits change, as do the items for sale. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are accepted. Memberships also are available.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Pumpkin Party

Neighborhood trick-or-treating isn’t a thing of the past, but communities and organizations have been offering more alternatives to this Halloween tradition in recent years. 

There’s a certain amount of trust required to let your kids take candy from strangers, even in your own neighborhood. During my childhood, trick-or-treating almost always meant visiting the houses of people my friends and family knew. I’m not sure that’s the case for kids anymore, so I can see why parents opt for community-sanctioned events where treats are distributed.

One of those is The Great Pumpkin Party in the Square, a free event happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Cleveland’s Public Square. 

Partygoers are invited to come in costume and take part in activities including pumpkin drawing, a pumpkin roll and even trick-or-treating. All ages are welcome.

Before or after the party, check out Prismatica, a free interactive lighting exhibit in Public Square from midnight to 11:59 p.m. daily through Nov. 15.