Giveaway: Halloween Fun for Everyone at Cedar Point’s #HalloWeekends

Enter to win 4 tickets to Cedar Point's Halloweekends (good through November 2)

Enter to win 4 tickets to Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends (good through November 2)

When it comes to Halloween, it can be difficult to find one place that makes everyone happy.

Sure, there are some places that do family-friendly fun exceptionally well. And there are other places that can put a fright in the bravest of souls. But excelling at one usually happens at the expense of the other.

That’s not a problem with Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends. Just like the amusement park’s regular offerings, their HalloWeekends festivities offer something for everyone.

The monsters come out to play at Halloweekends

The monsters come out to play at HalloWeekends

Scott and I made back-to-back trips to Cedar Point this past weekend (thank god for season passes) – Saturday was spent exploring Cedar Point with Scott, his mom and grandmother, while Sunday was spent rollercoastering and haunted housing with Scott.

And over the two days, there was not a moment where we weren’t having a blast. In fact, we’ll probably find an excuse to make use of our season passes one more time before the season ends Nov 2.

Here are 5 reasons why:

Unlock More Haunts: Cedar Point’s 5 haunted houses and 6 Scare Zones have always been fantastic, usually worth the wait in line. However, a new feature for this year’s Fright Lane pass had me purchasing one on Sunday’s visit to the park.  In addition to front-of-line access to all haunted houses, Fright Lane gets you a skeleton key that unlocks a secret room in each house.

Each Skeleton Key room offered an experience that preyed on a different fear – we got plenty of scares out of it and even a few laughs. Scott’s and my favorite room was at Boeckling’s Estate, followed by Cedar Point’s newest haunted house Hexed. Fright Lane costs vary depending on the day you’re going to the park.

Dine in a haunted house at Cedar Point's Boeckling's Banquet

Dine in a haunted house at Cedar Point’s Boeckling’s Banquet

Dinner with Ghouls: Boeckling’s Banquet at Cedar Point has been a longtime favorite of Scott’s and mine. Dining inside of a haunted house on delicious lobster tail, perfectly cooked filet, and a unique Halloween-themed dessert? Who wouldn’t miss that? This year’s was the perfect way to celebrate Scott’s birthday with his mom and grandmom. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Halloween experience, Boeckling’s Banquet is worth a look.

Midway Monster Invasion: Every Saturday and Sunday at 5pm, the Cedar Point midway is taken over by monsters …. friendly monsters! It doesn’t matter what age you are, Cedar Point’s Midway Monster Invasion will put a smile on your face and a bob in your step as you dance along to the parade music.

The Peanuts make an appearance in Cedar Point's Midway Monster Invasion

The Peanuts make an appearance in Cedar Point’s Midway Monster Invasion

Take in a Show: The Cleveland-based music group Midnight Syndicate has come to Cedar Point for their first live performance ever. Known for their gothic horror instrumentals, Midnight Syndicate has put together a performance that blends music, theatrics and film. After experiencing it for ourselves, Scott and I definitely found ourselves in the Halloween mood. Another must-see is the cirque-style Skeleton Crew on Celebration Plaza. I’m not always one for big outdoor shows, but I really enjoyed it.

Entertainment you make yourself: Often the best moments are the fun you make for yourself: From posing with all of the incredible decorations throughout the park…

Scott sees into his future, and his future doesn't like what's looking back

Scott sees into his future, and his future doesn’t like what’s looking back

…to grabbing a beer or glass of wine at the Trail Tavern and watching a scare zone unfold in front of us from the comfort of the Tavern’s front porch.

On top of all of the Halloween fun, there are the rollercoasters, bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, and other entertainment that make up every visit to Cedar Point.

There are only a few weekends left to enjoy this year’s HalloWeekends, which runs Friday-Sunday through November 2nd. But you can enter my HalloWeekends giveaway today and win a family four-pack of one-day tickets good for one of the final two weekends.

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**Do one, some or all five of the entries. Separate comment’s needed for each.**

Please note: This giveaway runs til Oct. 20 and tickets are for this year’s HalloWeekends only, which ends Nov. 2, 2014.

1) What’s your favorite thing about HalloWeekends? If you haven’t been to HalloWeekends yet, what are you most excited to do? Leave a comment on this post with your pick.

2) Follow @CedarPoint and @ADHicken on Twitter and leave one comment on this post telling me you did both.

3) If you’re a fan of Clue Into Cleveland and Cedar Point on Facebook, leave one comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

Scare up some fun at @CedarPoint’s #HalloWeekends. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for a family four-pack of tickets: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2BN

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Monday, October 20 at 11:59PM to enter. On Tuesday, October 21, I will select a winner using Random.org and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was offered complimentary tickets to Cedar Point; however, as a Platinum Season Passholder, I did not need them. I was also offered the opportunity to host this giveaway. My opinions on Cedar Point are and always have been my own.

Giveaway: Spice Up Your Fall with Two Westside Wine Events

Spice up your fall with these two west-side wine events

Spice up your fall with these two westside wine events

UPDATE: We have a giveaway winner! After tallying up the entries and placing the total into Random.org, congratulations to entry #19 – Jessica Z! You’ve won 2 L’Amour du Vin general admission tickets. Please reply to my email by Tuesday at noon confirming you can attend.

lamourduvin

If Target and Lowe’s are right, the holidays are quickly approaching. Ok, maaaaybe Christmas in September is a bit too soon; however, seeing the decorations on the shelves has been a good reminder that there’s one thing I need to do sooner than later: make sure my wine coffers are filled. 

Whether it’s a last-minute Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws, or my friend’s Waffle Christmas bash, I’ll sleep better knowing I have a reserve of reds and whites at the ready for the next holiday party.

What to buy, though? Fortunately, two upcoming events on the westside offer the perfect opportunity for some wine recon.

Keep reading for details on both events and a chance to win tickets to one of them!

Island Wine Festival, October 4

I never need an excuse to spend the day on Put-In-Bay, but if you do, this Saturday’s Island Wine Festival is a really great one.

Hop aboard the Miller Ferry to South Bass Island for a leisurely afternoon of wine, delicious food, and island living. Put-In-Bay’s Island Wine Festival runs 11am to 6pm on October 4 at the Put-in-Bay Winery and Doller House Estate.

Enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Erie or take a stroll through Put-in-Bay Winery's beautiful grounds at the Island Wine Festival

Enjoy beautiful views of Lake Erie or take a stroll through Put-in-Bay Winery’s gorgeous grounds at the Island Wine Festival

Sample more than 400 wines, including ones from the Put-in-Bay Winery, Heineman Winery and other Ohio wineries. Sampling tickets are $1 each with most samples running between $1 and $4. Bottles can also be purchased to take home with you.

In addition to wine, enjoy a display on the history of island wineries and grab a bite to eat from one of the festival vendors. Benefits from the event’s silent auction will go to the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society.

Scott and I went to the Island Wine Festival two years ago and made a full day out of the trip, checking out Perry’s Cave, the Crystal Cave and Perry’s Monument before and after the festival.

Although most people think summer when they think of Put-in-Bay, Fall is where it’s at, in my opinion.

L’Amour du Vin, October 9

I know everyone loves the Arthritis Foundation’s Silver Spoon Awards — I do too. But if I had to pick a favorite between that and their fall fundraiser L’Amour du Vin, I’d be hard-pressed to make my choice.

Presented by University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center, L’Amour du Vin puts the spotlight on Lorain County and Cleveland’s Westside.

Enter to win 2 tickets to L'Amour du Vin on October 9

Enter to win 2 tickets to L’Amour du Vin on October 9

The wine and food event is taking place next Thursday, October 9 and will feature wines from Heidleburg of Lorain and cuisine from 41 North, AMP 150, Bistro 83, Taki’s Greek Kitchen, Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery, and other area restaurants.

I LOVE this event. Living in Avon Lake, I may be a little biased but L’Amour du Vin’s smaller size and targeted approach is the perfect opportunity to experience what the westside of Cleveland has to offer (spoiler: a lot).

The VIP lounge has also always impressed me, featuring cocktails from Brown-Forman (loved last year’s Ward 8!) plus more food, spa services and other VIP surprises.

Scott and I even purchased L’Amour du Vin tickets for his parents so that they can get a taste of some of the different restaurants in their new neighborhood.

Cocktails and food from last year's L'Amour du Vin VIP party

Cocktails and food from last year’s L’Amour du Vin VIP party

The 17th annual L’Amour du Vin takes place October 9 at the Avon Oaks Country Club from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. General admission tickets are $65 per person ($80 at the door) and VIP costs $95 per person. Event proceeds support local programs and services for the nearly 1.3 million Northeast Ohioans with arthritis. Purchase tickets at lamourduvin2014.eventbrite.com or by calling Alicia at (216) 285-2822.

As much as I’m looking forward to attending L’Amour du Vin,
I’m even more excited that one of you will also be going!

Whether you’re a longtime westsider who’s already clued into our local restaurants, or want to explore more of this region’s cuisine, here’s your chance to win a pair of general admission tickets to L’Amour du Vin:

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**Do one, some or all five of the entries. A separate comment’s needed for each.**

1) What’s your favorite Lorain County or Cleveland Westside restaurant? Leave a comment on this post with your pick.

2) Follow @ArthritisFouNEO and @ADHicken on Twitter and leave one comment on this post telling me you did both.

3) If you’re a fan of Clue Into Cleveland and The Arthritis Foundation, Northeast Ohio Chapteron Facebook, leave one comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

Raise a glass to @ArthritisFouNEO at #LAmourduVin. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for your chance to win tickets: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2Bp

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Sunday, October 5 at 11:59PM to enter. On Monday, October 6, I will select a winner using Random.org and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend L’Amour du Vin with a guest in exchange for hosting a giveaway, I also have been invited to attend the Island Wine Festival. My choice to post about these events and opinions are 100% my own.

30 Seconds to Help Greater Cleveland Food Bank Win $60K

Hunger Action Month is almost done, but you have the ability RIGHT NOW to help Greater Cleveland Food Bank win $60,000.And it will take you only 30 seconds!

Hunger Action Month is almost done, but you have the ability RIGHT NOW to help Greater Cleveland Food Bank win $60,000.And it will take you only 30 seconds!

Fall is here and in less than a week, October will be too. While that means Halloween is around the corner, it also means that September’s Hunger Action Month is coming to an end.

Have you taken action yet to fight hunger with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank?

So far in September, the Food Bank has offered fundraising and volunteer opportunities and hosted events like the YP Pantry’s Hunger Action Month Happy Hour at Town Hall.

Of course, there was also last week’s Taste of the Browns fundraiser. 25+ restaurants filled First Energy Stadium, offering such delicious dishes as Hodge’s shrimp, chorizo and grits; Corleone’s Ristorante’s calamari steak; Momocho’s outstanding chicken tacos; and Little Devil Cupcakery’s sweets.

TASTE OF THE BROWNS FOOD

Attendees were also able to hang out with Browns players like Joe Haden (and his AWESOME shoes), Chomps and Brownie the Elf.

Taste of the Browns Twitter Image

By the end of the night, Taste of the Browns raised over $180,000 for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, equivalent to 720,000 meals for Northeast Ohio’s hungry.

With 6 days left in September, there’s still plenty of time to contribute to Hunger Action Month. Check out greaterclevelandfoodbank.org/about/hunger-action-month or the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s Facebook page for more ideas.

Don’t think you have enough time to make a difference? Think again. Even if you only have 30 seconds per day, you can help the Food Bank win $60,000 to fight hunger.

Help the Greater Cleveland Food Bank win $60,000. Vote for them DAILY through October 5.

Help the Greater Cleveland Food Bank win $60,000. Click here to vote for them DAILY through October 5.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is currently in the running for a huge grant from Walmart. Walmart has committed to donating $3 million divided between 50 food banks across the country, and those 50 food banks will be selected by YOU.

Vote now and every day through October 5 to ensure the Greater Cleveland Food Bank is one of those 50 food banks awarded this much-needed grant. Vote at http://goo.gl/UOZaTo.

As of this blog post, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank is tied at #49 on the leaderboard so they NEED YOUR VOTE to stay in the top 50.

It’s a very impactful and easy way you can help #fighthunger this Hunger Action Month. Go do it now!

Disclosure: I was given two general admission tickets to Taste of the Browns which I shared with Poise in Parma in exchange for hosting a giveaway. The opinions here and hoice to blog about the Fight Hunger, Spark Change contest is 100% my own.

#PartnersCLE Free Tailgate Party at PlayhouseSquare

Blogkeeping: Without further ado, we have a Taste of the Browns giveaway winner!

TOB Winner

After checking all of the entries and removing two pingbacks plus several duplicate entries, the winner as selected by Random.org is Cheryl Scheckel. Congratulations! 

If you didn’t win, I have another way you can celebrate the return of football to Cleveland … and this party is free for everyone!

PlayhouseSquare Partners' Season KickOff Party: Enjoy a tailgate followed by outdoor showing of Draft Day

PlayhouseSquare Partners’ Season KickOff Party: Enjoy a tailgate followed by outdoor showing of Draft Day

Join PlayhouseSquare Partners, the theatre district’s young professionals organization, for a Season KickOff Party and Movie this Friday night.

At dusk on September 12, PlayhouseSquare will be showing Draft Day out on the U.S. Bank Plaza. The movie’s free and part of PlayhouseSquare’s Summer Movie Series presented by Elk & Elk.

Our pre-movie kickoff will take place 5:30-8:30pm in the Idea Center’s Gund studio space on Euclid Ave. The tailgate-themed party includes:

  • A Chipotle Buffet
  • Cash Bar (First drink on us!)
  • Ice Cream Bars
  • DJ Playing Music
  • and Cornhole and Other Tailgate Games

PlayhouseSquare Partners will also be there with tables and information for each of our committees and upcoming activities.

Best of all, everyone who attends the party will be the first to find out what this year’s Jump Back Ball theme is. (I’m on the board and I won’t even find out til then!)

It’s free to attend the Partners KickOff Party, and if you decide to join Partners at this event, you’ll also receive 20% off a new Partners membership (excluding Balcony’s Best $50 membership).

Just RSVP for the party by emailing sarah@playhousesquare.org. See you Friday!

Disclaimer: I’m a co-chair of PlayhouseSquare Partners’ board and involved in the hosting of the movie’s Tailgate Party.

My #LakeErieLove Story: Cedar Point, A Century-Old Love Affair

Reminder: TODAY is the last day to enter my Taste of the Browns giveaway. You have until 11:59pm tonight (Sunday, 9/7). I’ll announce the winner on Monday.

Cedar Point's Gatekeeper

Cedar Point’s Gatekeeper threads the needle

As you walk up to Cedar Point’s front gate – tickets in hand, anticipation running high – the first thing you notice is the screaming.

Screams of excitement, of course, from their roller coaster “ride warriors.”

Framing the park’s front gate is Cedar Point’s most recent coaster, the aptly named Gatekeeper. The winged coaster takes riders on a two-minute-and-twenty-second jaunt through sharp turns, rolls, and dips up and around the park’s entrance. The highlight of which is when the track – and you – thread the keyholes in the gate’s dual towers.

Gatekeeper is only one of the 17 coasters at the park. (Soon to be 16…your last chance to ride the Mantis is October 19).

With all of these thrills, Cedar Point has definitely earned the moniker of “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World” and its 16 consecutive Golden Ticket Awards for Best Amusement Park in the World.

What about if you don’t like roller coasters, though? On this summer’s #LakeErieLove blogger tour, we met Cedar Point’s Bryan Edwards who showed us how much more there is to Cedar Point.

A non-coaster rider himself, Edwards told us about the park’s focus on providing an experience that everyone can enjoy. At Cedar Point, there’s something for young families, history buffs, food fanatics, beachgoers, and everyone in between.

I’m a huge coaster fan; it’s one of the reasons Scott and I buy a Platinum Season Pass every year. However, when our group was let out into the park to do what we wanted, I decided that this was one CP visit where I wouldn’t run straight to Millennium Force.

Instead, I joined Midwest Guest on a hunt for some of the Park’s historic highlights.

Our first stop was Cedar Point’s Coliseum. As you walk down the Midway, it’s hard to miss this huge structure.

The Cedar Point Coliseum from the side

The Cedar Point Coliseum from the side

Although I’ve explored every inch of Coliseum’s downstairs arcade on previous visits, I hadn’t seen the upstairs. Dominique and I took a peek at Cedar Point’s beautiful ballroom. Opened in 1906, the Ballroom has hosted music greats such as Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Duke Ellington, At one time, it even housed a roller skating rink.

Inside the Cedar Point ballroom

Inside the Cedar Point ballroom

It wasn’t difficult to imagine Ellington playing to a packed house as we walked around the space. The art deco accents, beautiful wooden floor, vintage chairs and tables, and massive stage are all still there.

The next time I’m playing a game of pinball, it’ll be cool to know what’s right above my head.

Cedar Point arcade and pinball machines, first floor of the coliseum

Cedar Point arcade and pinball machines, first floor of the coliseum

After this, we hit the beach. Cedar Point’s boardwalk and beach are beautiful, and worth taking a break from the coasters to explore.

It’s also how Cedar Point got its start. In 1867, an editorial in the local newspaper called on “some enterprising person” to utilize the Cedar Point Peninsula’s beach. That person ended up being Louis Zistel, who opened up a beer garden, bathhouse and dance floor, ferrying guests across Sandusky Bay on his steamboat, Young Reindeer. It wouldn’t be another 20+ years until Cedar Point’s first roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, was introduced.

This summer's Cedar Point Beach Blasts featured food, drink, games, live music, and fireworks

This summer’s Cedar Point Beach Blasts featured food, drink, games, live music, and fireworks

In 1913, the beach would play a significant part in another moment of history – the perfecting of football’s forward pass by Notre Dame and college football legend Knute Rockne. Knute and his teammate Gus Dorais both worked as lifeguards that summer at Cedar Point. During their freetime, they made use of the long stretch of beach, practicing throwing and running the ball.

A historic marker, as well as plaques telling the story, can be found down by Hotel Breakers.

Historic markers found near Hotel Breakers on the Cedar Point beach

Historic markers found near Hotel Breakers on the Cedar Point beach

That’s not all you’ll find at Hotel Breakers, either. The hotel, which originally opened in 1905, offers a glimpse into its past, with a beautiful Rotunda and original Tiffany glass.

If you were to stop by Hotel Breakers right now, though, you’ll notice that parts of it are closed. Just in time for its 110th birthday, the hotel is undergoing a full update to its hotel rooms, lobby, and more.

The renovations are to be completed by next summer. You can read about all of them here.

Inside Cedar Point's Hotel Breakers

Inside Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers

Of course, you don’t have to just look at the history. You can experience it for yourself on a few of the park’s rides.

From Blue Streak (the park’s oldest coaster) to the Cadillac Cars, Scrambler, and the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad, many of the park’s current rides have been bringing enjoyment to Cedar Point guests for more than half a century.

My personal favorites, though, are Cedar Point’s trifecta of carousels – the Midway Carousel, Kiddy Kingdom Carousel and Cedar Downs.

Cedar Point's Midway Carousel

Cedar Point’s Midway Carousel

Built in 1912, the Midway Carousel is one of the few Daniel Muller carousels still in existence. It’s also the park’s oldest operating ride.

The Kiddy Kingdom Carousel features 52 stunning animals (16 standing and 36 jumping) and two chariots. I love the variety in this carousel. It was built in 1925 by the William H. Dentzel firm in Philadelphia.  

Cedar Downs Racing Derby, a “must-rides” anytime I visit Cedar Point, is one of only two racing derby rides in the U.S. Originally built in 1920 for Cleveland’s Euclid Beach, Cedar Downs ran there for 47 years under the name the Great American Racing Derby. The ride is still housed in its original structure featuring 64 horses. Each row of four moves back and forth as the carousel’s turntable rotates at speeds up to 15 mph. If nothing else, the music that plays while you’re racing will put a smile on your face.

Cedar Downs Racing Derby (or, as our friend Dave called this, "The last thing you see before you die")

Cedar Downs Racing Derby (or, as our friend Dave called this, “The last thing you see before you die”)

You can get an even better look at Cedar Point’s history by stopping by the Town Hall Museum located near the Mine Ride. It features old maps and pictures and digs into a lot of the park’s past. Cleveland Scene also put together this neat slideshow of vintage Cedar Point photos.

Across the entire park, Cedar Point continues to balance its coasters with attractions for families and non-coaster-enthusiasts. For instance, they introduced two new family thrill rides this season with Pipe Scream and the Lake Erie Eagles.

I was particularly happy about the addition of Lake Erie Eagles because an identical ride at Virginia’s Kings Dominion was my favorite as a kid. I’m not going to lie…it’s still one of my favorite rides to go on.

Cedar Point's Lake Erie Eagles in action

Cedar Point’s Lake Erie Eagles in action

This post just grazes the surface of what Cedar Point offers beyond roller coasters. I didn’t even mention the farm or their new wine and beer bar in Frontiertown! Every visit between now and November 1, gets you access not just to the park’s usual attractions, but also the fun of HalloWeekends.

Regardless of whether you define “Ride Warrior” by the thrill of Maverick or a leisurely ride on the Cedar Point railroad, this Ohio amusement park offers a lot to love for every guest.

Catch up on the rest of my #LakeErieLove Story:

And keep an eye out for the final chapter in my Lake Erie Love Story: Getting back to nature.

Disclosure: I was invited on a 3-night/4 day blogger tour of the Lake Erie Shores and Islands, in exchange for writing about my experience. Opinions in this and other related posts are 100% my own.

Celebrate IPM’s 40th Anniversary with an Evening with Rick Steves and the Inaugural Cleveland General Assembly Week

Giveaway Reminder: Don’t forget to enter to win 2 tickets to Taste of the Browns. The giveaway ends Sunday, September 7. Tweet daily for extra entries!

Colombian Children in the Niños Trabajadores program, one of IPM's project partners

Colombian Children in the Niños Trabajadores program, one of IPM’s project partners

Children suffering from Cerebral Palsy in Kenya are given an opportunity to learn computer skills and tailoring.

Impoverished and visually impaired women in Palestine are able to learn Braille, Arabic, and English and earn a high school diploma.

Teenagers in Nicaragua, forced to work during the day to support their families, have the chance to complete their studies at night.

These are just three of the global projects that International Partners in Mission has supported over the last 40 years.

ipm

For four decades, IPM has reached the far corners of the world from its home in Cleveland Heights. Last year alone, the organization helped 60,000 people by providing financial support, tech assistance, and training opportunities in 20 countries.

One way they do this is through Immersion Experience travel programs. The Immersion Experience goes beyond the traditional service project by focusing on a person-to-person exchange. As IPM explains on its site:

By meeting and living with individuals from across our global community, participants provide the greatest service there is – being present to listen and learn from their hosts. Participants’ roles are to share their compassion and to share themselves. By exposing the past and current socio-political conditions from a variety of perspectives, IPM Immersion Experiences allow participants to learn from our local friends what faith means to them, how their programs develop and improve their community, and about the local culture while taking in the sights, sounds, and foods of the country.

To mark its 40th anniversary, IPM is bringing their project partners and national and international experts to Cleveland for a week’s worth of panels, luncheons and dinner events for the public to enjoy.

IPM’s inaugural General Assembly week will take place October 13-17 and feature talks by individuals such as Dorothy Nyong’o, a consultant at the Africa Cancer Foundation and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o's mother, and Sister Anthonia Ugheighele, whose Speranza II program provides a safe haven for African women trafficked from Nigeria to Italy.

At the same time, General Assembly week will also be a time of celebration with two special events: An Evening with Rick Steves and Namaste.

An evening with Rick Steves will take place October 17

An evening with Rick Steves will take place October 17

The party starts with IPM’s 12th annual gala and fundraiser Namaste! One Night for One World on October 16. The evening will showcase a world-tour of music and dance, as well as food and drink and fair-trade handcrafts from the regions touched by IPM’s programs.

The following evening, join IPM and The City Club’s Dan Moultrop for a private reception and talk with Rick Steves, host of the popular public television series “Rick Steves’ Europe” and best-selling author of over 50 European travel books.

Steves is a perfect fit for IPM’s General Assembly, often encouraging Americans to travel independently and become “temporary locals.” He’ll present his new book and reflect on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives and can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world.

Steves’ talk will start at 6:30 at The Breen Center for the Performing Arts. General admission tickets cost $30 and can be purchased here (student and VIP tickets are also available).

If you’re interested in learning more about Namaste and IPM’s other General Assemby events, visit IPM’s Facebook page or contact Raluca Besliu at rbesliu@ipmconnect.org and 216-932-4082.

Taste of the Browns Giveaway: Tackle Hunger with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Win 2 tickets to

Win 2 tickets to the Sept. 15 event

Every four years, Feeding America, the nationwide network of 200 food banks, conducts its Hunger in America study.

It’s the largest survey of its kind, focusing on why hunger happens and its effects on local communities.

The most recent Hunger in America was released just last week, and showed that right here in Northeast Ohio, more than 574,000 people each year turn to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and other hunger programs.

If you’ve been thinking about getting involved with the Food Bank, now is the time.

September is Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign to raise significant funds and enlist volunteers in the fight against hunger.

And the Greater Cleveland Food Bank has made it easy and fun for you to contribute with two fantastic events.

First up is the Hunger Action Month Happy Hour on Monday, September 8th. From 5:30-7:30pm, drink and eat up at TownHall in Ohio City. A $20 ticket gets you unlimited selected drafts between 5:30 and 7:30 and flatbreads between 6 and 7. All proceeds benefit the Cleveland Food Bank, and you can find out more and buy tickets at the link.

It’s an excellent warm-up to the Food Bank’s main event the following week. That’s right, it’s time again for Taste of the Browns!

It’s the 16th year that the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, the city’s culinary scene, and the Cleveland Browns have teamed up to tackle hunger in Northeast Ohio.

Photo from 2013 Taste of the Browns, courtesy of Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Photo from 2013 Taste of the Browns, courtesy of Greater Cleveland Food Bank

On Monday, September 15, more than 25 of the area’s finest restaurants and chefs will take over the City View Club Lounge at FirstEnergy Stadium. Some of the restaurants in attendance include:

  • Rocco Whalen’s Fahrenheit and Rosie & Rocco’s
  • Zack Bruell’s Chinato, Cowell & Hubbard, L’Albatros Brasserie, Parallax, Table 45
  • Eric Williams’ Momocho and El Carnicero
  • Sam McNulty’s The Market Garden Brewery, Bar Cento, Speakeasy, Nano Brew and Bier Market
  • And my new favorite downtown dining destination Urban Farmer
Photo from 2013 Taste of the Browns by Poise in Parma

Photo from 2013 Taste of the Browns by Poise in Parma

Cleveland Browns fans also have the opportunity to meet and mingle with Browns alumni and current players and bid for items like Joe Haden’s “favorite things” gift basket; footballs and jerseys autographed by Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and Barkevious Mingo; and a signed copy of the Draft Day movie script.

New to this year’s Taste of the Browns is a wine and craft beer pull. For $10, attendees can purchase a bottle cap for a six-pack of craft beer, while $20 gets you a bottle of wine.

Need more convincing? Check out Poise in Parma’s guest recap of last year’s Taste of the Browns.

General admission tickets are available for $175, $75 of which is tax-deductible and can be purchased here. Proceeds from last year’s event raised more than $175,000 for the Food Bank, enabling them to distribute 700,000+ meals to agencies in six local counties.

Photo from 2013 Taste of the Browns, courtesy of Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Photo from 2013 Taste of the Browns, courtesy of Greater Cleveland Food Bank

You can also win 2 general admission tickets to Taste of the Browns in my giveaway.
How to enter: Do one, some or all five of the entries; a separate comment’s needed for each.

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me which Taste of the Browns restaurant you haven’t been to before that you’d like to try.

2) Follow @CleveFoodbank and @ADHicken on Twitter and leave one comment on this post telling me you did both.

3) If you’re a fan of Clue Into Cleveland and the Cleveland Foodbank on Facebook, leave one comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to tackle hunger at @CleveFoodbank’s #TasteoftheBrowns. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway and you can too: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2zV

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Sunday, September 7 at 11:59PM to enter. On Monday, September 8, I will select a winner using Random.org and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Taste of the Browns with a guest in exchange for hosting a giveaway. My choice to post about this event and opinions are 100% my own.

A Birthday of High Flying, Good Eats & The Great Outdoors

First off, whether it was by Facebook, Twitter, email, text, phone call, or in person — thank you for all of the birthday wishes this weekend.

The festivities started early on Friday night with Date Night at the ZOOvies. This was the second year in a row we celebrated my birthday with an evening of food, beer, and an 80s classic under the stars.

Pre-movie dinner at Date Night at the ZOOvies

Pre-movie dinner at Date Night at the ZOOvies

The Cleveland Zoological Society always does a great job with ZOOvies – especially, the pre-movie food. This year, the eggrolls and BBQ sandwiches were the standouts.

However, it’s the movie snacks that are my favorite part. Besides popcorn, beer, wine, and soda, ZOOvies features a pretzel bar with multiple dips and a candy bar stacked with bowls of sweets from BA Sweeties.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo showed The Great Outdoors, which I had never seen before but Scott kept quoting for the last month.  It was good to finally put a film to the quotes — a film that lived up to the high expectations Scott had set for me.

Scott rests his feet after setting up our chairs at Date Night at the ZOOvies

Scott rests his feet after setting up our chairs at Date Night at the ZOOvies

I loved The Great Outdoors for capturing everything I enjoy about 80s flicks — the family-vacation-gone-wrong-but-it-doesn’t-matter-because-they-still-have-fun; the bawdy humor; Dan Akroyd and John Candy playing off of each other; the sub-titled animal scenes.

I also realized how much I missed hearing John Candy’s voice. There was always a wink and warmth to it.

After eating a plate full of sour gummy bears, I rode a sugar high all the way home from the Zoo, arriving just in time to crash face first into bed.

If you want to learn how you can enjoy the really great outdoors with the Zoo, the Zoological Society’s next featured event is a preview of their upcoming wildlife trips and takes place September 23.

Some of my favorite airplanes from RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton

Some of my favorite airplanes from RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton

Birthday proper was spent fulfilling a lifelong wish. When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with remote-controlled everything. I played with remote-control cars and boats; however, the one thing I never touched was a remote-control airplane. (Mostly, because I’m 100% sure I would have immediately crashed and broken it.)

And I think that made my obsession with them even stronger.  I remember going to a park with my dad and marveling at the beautiful scaled warbirds doing tricks across the sky. Unfortunately, my local hobby shop didn’t offer a lot of flying classes for kids, so I kept myself content with my RC trucks.

When Scott and I found out the Liberty Aviation Museum was hosting RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton on my birthday, we immediately knew it would be the perfect birthday outing.

Classic biplanes, jets, helicopters, aerobatic – RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton featured all kinds of flying machines this past weekend.  Each beautifully constructed, most of which you wouldn’t have known were a model when looking up at the sky.  Here’s a YouTube video from the event:

Best of all, Warbirds over Port Clinton had local RC shops at the show, selling a HUGE range of planes and equipment, including a starter kit whose price had my name all over it. Now if I crash and burn, I won’t feel so bad. And if I don’t crash and burn? I may have a new hobby to enjoy.

After a short nap (at 32, I can’t rock a full day of excitement anymore without a little sleep), we were off to dinner at Spice in Gordon Square.

Spice Kitchen and Bar's Honey Glazed Sirloin

Spice Kitchen and Bar’s Honey Glazed Sirloin

After this year’s birthday dinner, I can’t say enough nice things about Spice Kitchen and Bar. We’ve always enjoyed the restaurant the few times we visited in the past, but our experience on Saturday night was by far the best.

Due to a last minute change in plans, we found ourselves calling Spice at 7pm Saturday to see if they could fit a group of six for 7:45.

A long shot, for sure, but they were incredibly gracious about it and we even lucked out and got my favorite table in the entire restaurant — a gorgeous long wooden table, decked out with wooden tree trunks.

My Honey Lavender Collins went very well with our table setting at Spice Kitchen and Bar

My Honey Lavender Collins went well with our table

As always, the service and food were fantastic. To start, Scott ordered the dumplings, while I ordered the mushroom beignets. I was talking with a friend on Monday about how we would go to Spice just for those beignets and the honey goat cheese creme fraiche they’re served with. If you kept putting orders of these in front of me, I would just keep eating them:

I could eat five orders of Spice's Mushroom Beignets

Fortunately, I stopped myself and saved room for our entrees. Scott’s sirloin featured a hint of honey glaze, wonderfully balanced by the meat’s peppery kick. I ordered the evening’s special – rabbit pappardelle. The rabbit and noodles were incredibly tender. If they offer you a rabbit special when you go, I highly recommend it.

I topped this magnificent dinner with a Honey Lavender Collins and the fantastic company of Jen, Alicia, their husbands and the Morrises in spirit.

All in all, a lovely way to say hello to 32. I’m looking forward to the year ahead.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Date Night at the ZOOvies with a guest in exchange for previewing the event. Opinions are 100% my own.

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge: To quote Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s time “to give a sh*t.”

There's $31 million in this bucket

There’s more than $31 million in this bucket

“Building awareness.” The term can mean many things.

When it comes to the ALS #IceBucketChallenge, it can mean reaching people for the first time who don’t know what ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease is. Or educating everyone on just how devastating ALS is to the body. Or revealing that ALS research (and many other nonprofits) has been struggling with funding.

I will admit that at the beginning of the Ice Bucket Challenge, I was on the fence about people dousing themselves with ice water for a cause. Over the last couple of years, I’ve become a little jaded about social media stunts.

However, it was articles like What An ALS Family REALLY Thinks About the Ice Bucket Challenge and Why I Won’t Be Ashamed of My #icebucketchallenge that changed my mind. You also can’t argue with the fact that the challenge has raised over $15 million $31.5 million for the ALS Association and additional millions for other ALS organizations. What could have been a short-lived stunt did much more than build awareness. It drove action.

Whether it’s $5, $10, $25 or $100…
Regardless of whether or not you film yourself dumping ice water on your head…
It’s time to donate to ALS research and treatments.

Although my bucket decided to sit this one out, I put my wallet where my mind and mouth are. I encourage you to do the same if you already haven’t. Donate to ALS; or – if you would prefer – split your next donation between ALS and the charity of your choice.

And if you’re looking for a place to make your ALS donation, here’s one:

Jennifer Jackson is a friend of mine from PlayhouseSquare Partners (and an excellent board vice-chair!). A little over 8 years ago, her father Hank lost his life to ALS.

Her family now participates in the Cleveland Walk to Defeat ALS to give thanks to the ALS Association for supporting them through his battle. The organization provided respite care and home health aids that made a tremendous difference in his quality of life.

The 2014 Walk to Defeat ALS takes place on September 21. You can join me in helping Jen and her family surpass their goal by donating here.

If you still have your doubts about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, go and read those three articles that I linked to earlier and then read this exchange from Guardians of the Galaxy. I watched this movie for the third time last night, and the more often I see it, the more I realize it’s the perfect movie for everything else going on right now. 

Peter Quill: Usually life takes more than it gives, but not today. Today it’s given us something. It has given us a chance.

Drax: To do what?

Peter: To give a shit.

P.S. – Thank you, Poise in Parma, for tagging me in the Ice Bucket Challenge. I had decided to donate but it was your tag that reminded me to take the 30 seconds to follow through. (Yet another reason this campaign is good — it fights forgetfulness!)

Win 2 Tickets to the Sold-Out Date Night at the ZOOvies

Update: After tallying up all of the entries, removing two non-entry comments, and plugging the total into Random.org, congratulations to entry #9 – Mindy R!

Zoovies winner

Please reply to my email by the end of Monday to confirm you can attend ZOOvies.

Date Night at the ZOOvies may be sold out, but I have 2 tickets you can win

Date Night at the ZOOvies may be sold out, but I have 2 tickets you can win

When I told Scott that we’d be seeing The Great Outdoors at this year’s Date Night at the ZOOvies, he freaked out and started spouting off a bunch of quotes.

I’ve never seen the movie, but when Scott’s face lit up at the mere mention of the movie and he told me it starred one of my favorite comic actors John Candy, I realized I had something to look forward to.

Between the John Hughes script about a camping trip gone comically awry and hijinks from Dan Akroyd and Candy, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has yet again put together the perfect late-summer outing (and birthday-eve for me!).

Zoovies3

The pretzel and candy bars are a great touch to Date Night at the ZOOvies

On Friday, August 22, pack up your picnic blanket and lawn chairs and head to the Zoo’s Savanna Theater for an evening of The Great Outdoors … in the great outdoors!

The movie starts at 8:30pm, with hot pretzels, popcorn, a candy bar, beer, wine, and soda served during the movie, but if you get there early, you can also enjoy light apps and drinks starting at 7pm. The African Savanna and Australian Adventure will be open to tour, as well.

You can read my recap of last year’s ZOOvies for more info, but if you’ve been to Twilight at the Zoo or previous ZOOvies, you know the Cleveland Zoological Society throws a wicked party. 

Just a few of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's party animals

Just a few of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s party animals

I’m still recuperating from the fun we had at last Friday’s Twilight. After last year’s rainstorm, this was my first time actually experiencing all of Twilight at the Zoo. 

The food line in the VIP party was definitely worth the wait – delicious oysters, ceviche, filet, and short rib sliders from Mitchell’s Fish Market, Fleming’s, AMP 150, and Carrabbas’s. While Scott tried his first sip of moonshine, we listened to The Madison Crawl and relaxed under the trees.

After meeting up with Jen and Matthew, we made our way down the hill to the Zoo’s main entrance with the goal of seeing as many bands as possible.

Bon Jovi

Even a short rain shower couldn’t stop Scott

Scott showed his proud Jersey boy roots by rocking out to Bon Jovi tribute band Wanted. We filled up on delicious Reuben Bites as Shady Drive laid down some classic rock. And we cooled down with Joe Bell and the Swing Lizards around Monkey Island.

My favorite band, though, was Craic. Every time we stopped by their stage, the crowd was having a blast, and I will never turn down an opportunity to dance to Celtic rock.

I can’t wait for August 22 for more summer fun at the Zoo. Although Date Night at the ZOOvies is sold out, I have 2 tickets to give away for you and a friend.  You won’t see Groot, but Scott told me to prepare for more talking raccoons.  I hope you can join me!

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Leave a comment with your favorite thing to see or do at the Zoo.

2) Follow @CleveZooSociety and @ADHicken on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

3) If you’re a fan of the Cleveland Zoological Society and Clue Into Cleveland on Facebook, leave a comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to see The Great Outdoors in the great outdoors. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for @CleveZooSociety #ZOOvies tix http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2wD

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Friday, July 15 at 11:59PM to enter. On Saturday, July 16, Random.org will select a winner and I’ll announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Twilight at the Zoo and Date Night at the ZOOvies with a guest in exchange for blogging about the events. My choice to blog about it is based on how much Scott and I have enjoyed this event in years past.