With the Burning River Roller Girls‘ 2011 season not starting up until March, it’s going to be a long cold winter when it comes to Cleveland roller derby action. Before then, though, the ladies from the BRRG are lacing up their skates on Nov. 20 for their fifth annual roller derby benefit — Black & Blue 5: The Fur ‘Brawl.’
In November of 2006, the BRRG played their debut bout in Cleveland on Black Friday, an event they dubbed ‘Black & Blue.’ It was a sold-out event that helped the league gain support as they started organizing regular seasonal play. Since then, the Fall fundraiser has been an annual tradition, serving as a way to keep fans excited on the off-season and raise money for local charities. Previous years’ Black & Blue charities have included the Cleveland Food Bank, Aids Task Force of Greater Cleveland, Toys for Tots and Coats for Kids.
This year’s celebration of their 5th anniversary will take place on Saturday, November 20th (the Saturday before Thanksgiving) at the BRRG’s home in the Wolstein Center. As in years past, the league will divide into two large teams – Team Black and Team Blue – for a bout that starts at 6pm (doors open at 5pm).
At halftime, a ‘Fresh Meat’ rite of passage and a crowd-favorite tradition returns with Full Contact Musical Chairs. The BRRG’s newest recruits will put on their skates and unleash three months of training in a no-rules, no-holds-barred battle royale to grab a seat in the last empty chair.
Tickets for the evening cost $15 for adults ($6 for kids age 12 and younger). As with their regular season bouts, they can be purchased at the Wolstein Center Box Office, www.wolsteincenter.com or by phone (877-468-4946).
A generous portion of the proceeds raised through admission will go to this year’s charity, the Cleveland Animal Protective League. For those not familiar with the Cleveland APL, it’s the largest nonprofit humane society in Northeast Ohio.
Since 1913, the Tremont-based Cleveland APL has been relying solely on donations to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty and to provide shelter and care for over 10,000 homeless animals a year. Considering my soft spot for rescued animals (our cat Chloe is a rescue and we’re looking to adopt a dog shortly), supporting the APL with this year’s benefit makes me extremely happy. Even if I weren’t interested in a roller derby bout, I would have probably shown up just because of whom it’s benefiting.
In honor of this year’s charity, Team Black will represent felines as the Black Alley Cats and Team Blue will skate the court as the Blue Blood Hounds for canines. The APL will also be at the bout with adoptable dogs and their own pet care merchandise for sale.
Although there will be a lot of crowd favorites and traditions from previous Black and Blues, new to this year’s event is the opportunity for two fans to captain the teams. The BRRG recently held two public ebay auctions for the ultimate fan experience: the chance for the winner to pick their ‘dream team,’ develop strategy, create lineups, attend practice, run drills, and coach their players to a victory at the Brawl. The win also came with 15 free tickets and a thank you gift to commemorate the experience. The auction closed a couple of days ago and the winners helped raise an additional $460 for the APL.
Even if you weren’t one of the two auction winners, you can still support the APL by getting tickets for the BRRG’s Nov. 20 Black & Blue 5. If it’s anything like last season’s championship bout, you’ll not only be supporting a good cause, but also getting an evening full of exciting derby action. I’ll be there, hoping it’s enough to hold me over until March.
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