Winterfest - Cleveland

97.) Winterfest – Cleveland – November 27, 2010

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In the fine city of Cleveland…

…where Moses Cleaveland (spelled correctly) proudly held up some Christmas decor…

…a festival was going on…

…and it was a rather confusing one.

Unlike other festivals where all the vendors and activities are all brought together in a park or downtown location, Cleveland’s Winterfest is an explosion of activities at various locations and times.It’s like a neighborhood garage sale that you have to plan for beforehand, keeping in mind that some of the garage sales might start later while others still might even have entrance fees (ie special party events, etc.).So I carefully studied the news articles and made notes on a map, deciding when to arrive in order to make the most of my (free) downtown adventure.I parked in the Tower City Center and glided up the escalator to the main floor…

…just as one of the shows began.
This tale of a toymaker and a fairy godmother who brought his toys to life was definitely an interesting one…
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…although the handling of live children really made me nervous.

So I decided to check on other Tower City Center Winterfest attractions…

…including the kiddie train that drove through crowds…

…and the Gingerbread Lane display…

…which was quite impressive…

…although not as impressive as the one found at the Ritz Carlton

…who had more ingredients to work with.

Outside, in Public Square…

…the OSU/Michigan game was playing on the big screen…

…to an audience of none.

Apart from being cold outside…

…the events in Public Square still weren’t set up yet…

…and vendors weren’t supposed to arrive until 3 (although some people told me 6).

This, honestly, was the most confusing thing about the Winterfest. Who would really stand out in the cold to watch a game without any food or drink available?The only people willing to stay outside in this cold were the volunteers…
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…and those who wanted a free carriage ride.
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So with nothing really going on until 3 in Public Square, I went to other festival locations to pass the time.My first stop…

…was the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

…which commemorated the soldiers and sailors of Cuyahoga County…

…who fought in the Civil War.

Reopened in early June of this year, the memorial is definitely worth visiting for its workmanship, history and friendly/informative staff.

I even got to see Santa there!

After, I went out to the Arcade

…one of the first American indoor shopping centers (1890).
Although no activities were going on at the time, there were some walking tours scheduled later that day. It was also nice to see the 19th century decorations for a change of pace.Eventually, I made my way back and got a cup of coffee.

Radio Disney was still getting the activity area ready…

…while a Viking distracted small children.

And as vendors were finally up and running…

…I couldn’t help but be pulled in by free vegan sandwich samples…

…and the vision of some good looking cupcakes for dessert.

This latter tempation brought about my introduction to Valerie Mayen, contestant of the 2010 season of Project Runway (Season 8). Representing her company Yellowcake, LLC, her (mostly) yellow cake cupcakes were used to acquire donations for a co-op sewing facility for young designers and students.
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How could I say no?

Shortly after this, I met another woman who let me warm myself at her booth’s space heater. After talking with her for a bit, she told me about a fundraiser she was working with that provided hygiene products and undergarments to the homeless (items you can’t purchase with government aid).In order to thank her for the heat (because it really was a cold day), I thought I would pass on the info about her fundraiser here.With a warmed up body filled with vegan grub and sweets, I thought over my festival experience with a smile. Because even though I still found the event scheduling a bit of a mess, the vendors and volunteers involved helped make the experience a pleasant one.Everyone was as friendly and chipper as ever!

This was also the case at the Cleveland Visitor’s Center, located in the old Higbee building (remember the Santa Claus scene in “A Christmas Story“?).

Here, they had a nice Christmas display…

…the malted ice cream they used to sell in the Higbee store all those years ago…

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…and various wreaths to raffle off, which included “A Christmas Story” themes…
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…because all Clevelanders love “A Christmas Story”…

…some even more than others.k

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