***A bit of blog-keeping: today bloggers from around Cleveland are participating in the Ohio Blogging Association’s November blog swap. Today’s post on Why CLE? is written by the fantastic, fun, craftbeer-loving Renee of Brewer’s Daughter. Much thanks to her for a fantastic post on kicking off the holidays in CLE!
Why Cleveland for the holidays? I’ll begin with my own personal reason first: the wonderful holiday traditions in my hometown, the Village of Chagrin Falls.
Chagrin Falls is a sleepy bedroom ‘burb about 35 minutes southeast of Cleveland, a pretty little New England-y town founded by Connecticut settlers–part of what is known as the Ohio Western Reserve. It sits on the Chagrin River, and includes a gazebo in the Triangle in the center, surrounded by pleasant store fronts, the famous Popcorn Shop (great for candy and ice cream too) and of course the picturesque waterfall with lovely views from the park right on Main Street. Every Friday evening following Thanksgiving, the town comes out for the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in the Triangle.
Choirs sing, speeches are made and everyone oohs and ahhs over their hot chocolate purchased from local diners and coffee shops. Each year, the town is transformed into a replica of Frank Capra’s Bedford Falls from “It’s a Wonderful Life” by the local Jaycees, who painstakingly put up the festive decorations in any and all kinds of weather. Town visitors are treated to horse and carriage rides, and their children enjoy visits with Santa Claus in the gazebo every weekend through Christmas. I love Chagrin Falls this time of year!
Of course this is about Cleveland, and there are plenty of great things to see and do in the city as well. A visit to Public Square is always required–decked in festive lights with Terminal Tour lit up in green and red. WinterFest kicks off with an official tree lighting ceremony on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and a temporary ice skating rink goes up for the enjoyment of many over the cold winter days and evenings.
The days of Public Square’s holiday glory past–when Higbee’s store front windows included imaginative moving displays, toys and fashionable gifts–is lovingly captured in the opening frames of the now classic 1983 movie, “A Christmas Story,” the story of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Rider BB gun. The home where the movie was filmed is in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, and the Christmas Story House is now a museum and open to visitors year-round, though November and December are an especially popular time to visit. You can take home the “glow of electric sex” for yourself with a number of leg lamp souveniers available for purchase in the gift shop.
Looking for great food for the family table over the holidays? Visit the West Side Market for treats and succulent meats and specialties. And why not stop into the Great Lakes Brewing Company for a frosty Christmas Ale, or the new Market Garden Brewery for Festivus Ale (for the rest of us!). All are in the West 25th Street neighborhood of Cleveland.
And this is a wonderful time of year to visit University Circle and its museums, but most especially the Cleveland Botanical Garden when it’s dressed up for the holidays with poinsettias, gingerbread houses, and sparkling trees. Then take a short ride up Murray Hill and shop in the boutiques of Little Italy for that perfect gift. Cap it off with a foamy cappucino at Presti’s Bakery — with some wonderful Italian sweet to nosh on, of course!
There’s much more to do in the 216 for this festive season if you’re looking—theatre productions, concerts, more shopping–but these are a few of my favorite things, and why I say Cleveland rocks around the Christmas tree and all year long!