By CYNTHIA SCHUSTER EAKIN
Are you looking for some fun summertime activities that you can enjoy safely? Here are a few ideas.
Take a hike and step into Cleveland’s past.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corporation (HGNC) is offering its Take a Hike historic walking tours online as free, self-guided, interactive experiences. You can incorporate the tours into your weekly exercise routine and embark on exciting journeys through Cleveland’s neighborhoods, cultural sites and legacy architecture. The tours can be enjoyed at your own pace, while complying with social distancing rules.
Start by going to www.takeahikecle.com and choose your tour. Using your mobile device’s GPS function, an interactive map will guide you through the tour with professional audio narrations at each stop. Each tour also offers companion videos that introduce you to notable figures from Cleveland’s past portrayed by professional actors. Tours available during the month of August include the Canal Basin Tour, Grand Department Stores Tour and the Warehouse District Tour.
“We’re thrilled to offer a safe and healthy way to bring Cleveland history to life during our twelfth season, HGNC Executive Director Tom Yablonsky said. “We hope this digital, on-demand format allows us to reach a wider audience and we look forward to continuing our traditional in-person tour experience in 2021.”
Ashley Ribando, marketing and engagement manager for HGNC, said this summer’s tours have been very popular. “It’s going great so far,” she noted. “We’ve had thousands of people surge to the site to check out our tours. The program we are using for the interactive maps has Google Analytics capabilities, so we’ve been very pleased with the participation. We had no idea what to expect, but people seem to love it!”
Cleveland is a city of neighborhoods, defined not only by architecture, but by the cultures of the people who settled them. Whether created by new or old immigrants or migrants, their structures, signage and commercial enterprises reflect a variety of ethnic identities, some dating back more than 150 years and some relatively new.
A guided tour of AsiaTown is one of a series of virtual tours being developed by the Western Reserve Historical Society to highlight the diverse heritages that make up our city. It is another step in the society’s mission to document and explore the history of Cleveland, a truly global city.
The historical society is working with people from and familiar with ethnic neighborhoods. These people are the best guides to the past and present of their communities. Johnny Wu has crafted the tour of AsiaTown, a neighborhood that he knows as a film maker, entrepreneur and organizer who has done much to promote and discover the past and the present of one of the city’s most vibrant districts.
You can take a tour following the script posted online, or you can drive or walk past the landmarks, starting near Public Square and moving east to historic Chinatown. You can even stop at one of the area’s many restaurants to pick up food to enjoy during your trip. Visit www.canalwaypartners.com to download the AsiaTown virtual tour packet.
The “Cleveland Stories Dinner Parties” series continues at the Music Box Supper Club on Aug. 20, with a few adjustments. Deanna Adams and Mike Olszewski will talk about the history of Cleveland’s best music venues. Adams is a writer, speaker, award-winning essayist and author of both fiction and nonfiction works. Olszewski is a veteran Cleveland TV and radio reporter and local broadcast history buff.
“Overall, the Cleveland Stories Dinner Parties are mostly the same,” Ricky Benninger, marketing manager for the Music Box Supper Club explained. “We still offer a $20 three-course prix fixe dinner, while owner Mike Miller interviews about a Cleveland history-related topic. Both chairs on stage are spaced six feet back from the front row of the audience.”
“Now that we have a strict capacity, we no longer offer the Cleveland stories for free admission. We are now asking guests to purchase a $5 food and beverage voucher online that they can use the night of the event,” she said. “Our reasoning behind this was to have a little ‘skin in the game’ to make sure people show up when they make reservations. In the past, we would sometimes have fifty percent no shows on reservations and we can’t really afford that right now. Like I said, the five dollars can be used on food and beverage during the show, so it is basically free.”
“We have many new health and safety precautions to keep our staff and guests safe,” Benninger said. “For example, everyone is required to wear a mask to enter the venue and when moving in public areas like restrooms. Guests may take masks off when they are eating and drinking at the reserved table, spaced six feet from any other guests. We have daily cleanings, temperature readings and much more. You can find out about everything we are doing, including our new video, at www.musicboxcle.com/reopening.”
Doors open at 5 p.m. on Aug. 20, with storytelling beginning at 7 p.m. Reservations are required to enable social distancing requirements. The $20 prix fixe dinner option includes pasta pierogi salad, chicken paprikash and a Napoleon dessert.
Visit the Midwest Railway Preservation Society and historic B&O Roundhouse at 2800 W. 3rd St. in the Flats to learn how railroads helped to make Cleveland an industrial giant.
The Midwest Railway Preservation Society is an all-volunteer group of people dedicated to preserving the railroad past. The society has a diverse collection of vintage cars and engines. Several train cars are restored and available for public viewing. The red caboose sitting at the entrance to the roundhouse stands out against the darker steel buildings of the industrial Flats. Restored passenger coaches are used on excursions and displayed throughout the year. The B&O boxcar is a showpiece within the rail yard, setting the standard for future restoration efforts.
Open house events are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the last tour and train ride are at 3 p.m. Everyone must wear closed-toe shoes. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages four to 12. Visit www.midwestrailway.org or phone 216.781.3629.
Suggestions for summer fun this season, with safety in mind
By CYNTHIA SCHUSTER EAKIN