The Sum(mer) of its parts

This is part one of a series of articles that I have completed for AltOhio. In it, I detail the things that you could do in Cleveland at that time. A copy of the original article, as well as the rest of the series, can be found in the included links. 

Summer time is upon us! We have finally been granted a reprieve from the days when we are hermetically sealed in our homes in an effort to not freeze our asses off. The thirst to be outside and to be inhaling fresh air by the bucketful is thick in our throats. As a father of three children, this is a feeling that I know all too well. This summer, like all summers in Cleveland, promises not to disappoint. But there’s something that I have noticed especially since I have gotten older; certain parts of the city (and the surrounding area) get compartmentalized. One area is favored over the other for whatever reasons. What makes this worse is that the older a person gets, the harder it is to appreciate the city as a whole.

Over the next couple of months, I will be highlighting some of the more interesting happenings going on throughout the Cleveland-area as well as including a few polite reminders of why this part of Ohio should be appreciated as a whole.

Marc’s Great American Rib Cook-Off 

It would not be May in Cleveland if there were no Great American Rib Cook-off. Spread out over the course of Memorial Day Weekend, the Rib Cook-off is that one event in Cleveland that officially heralds the arrival of summer. There are ribs and there is live music (specifically from likes of Buddy Guy, Rick Springfield and Brett Michaels). It doesn’t get any more “summer” than that! Starting Friday May 24 at 12pm and ending Monday (Memorial Day) May 27, Marc’s Great American Rib Cook-Off promises to be an event that is suitable for the whole family. Something to ponder while you sate yourself on the fatted calf? “The flats are actually where Cleveland began. They served as the landing site for Moses Cleaveland and his survey party when they traveled from Connecticut in 1796 (Grabski, 2005).

Cleveland’s Theatre District

No one ever said that you had to spend your entire summer outside. There’s going to be one of those nights (or possibly, days) when the thespian urge strikes. Why not make a trip down Euclid Avenue to see what all of the fuss is about?

Starting May 1 at Playhouse Square is the fan-favorite Guys & Dolls. Based on a story by Damon Runyon with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, Guys & Dolls is a “musical fable” of Broadway that is set in mid-20th century New York and is about “gambling men and the strongwilled women who love them”. Hailed as an American classic, Guys & Dolls is a musical comedy that is sure to entertain.

As an historical aside, it should be noted that given Cleveland’s layout, Euclid Avenue was the only logical choice to serve as the location of the city’s theatre district. Back in the day, there were 5 theaters that started this new theater district: the Allen Theater, the Ohio Theater, The State Theater, the Palace Theater and 2 Loews Theaters (Becker, 2004).

For further information (or if Guys and Dolls isn’t your thing) visit Around the same time that the theater district had begun to assemble, the first indoor shopping mall in the United States had opened. The Arcade officially opened its doors to Cleveland’s residents in 1890 (Becker, 2004).

Also on Euclid Avenue this summer is the One Nation Under a Groove Gala. This funk and soul music revue will be performed by Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA) students. The school itself is a specialty arts school that focuses on music, theater, dance, creative writing & visual arts. The gala will honor David LaRue, CEO of Forest City Enterprises Inc. Mr. LaRue is the former President of the FCSA Board of Trustees and has been instrumental in achieving the goal of a new school building for CSA.

The gala will be held on Friday, May 3, 2013 from 6:30 – 10:30 pm at the House of Blues, 308 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 216.421.7690.

Cleveland Metropark Zoo

When in doubt, my default source of amusement and merriment has always been the zoo. It’s a very little known fact that Cleveland Zoo actually began on the East Side. Originally, Jeptha Wade (one of the founding members of Western Union Telegraph) donated land to the city for the establishment of Wade Park. Because of residential development and the addition of other animals, the zoo was gradually moved to (the then) Brookside Park, where it currently resides (Van Tassel, Grabowski, 1987).

From now until Halloween, Discount Drug Mart is sponsoring Photo Safari. This is the zoo’s annual photo contest that is open to all amateur photographers. All photos must be taken between April 1 and Halloween of this year.

Also happening is the Wild Ride at the Zoo. This is an after-hours event that will give visitors the opportunity to skip the tried and true Tram ride to the top of the hill and elsewhere in favor of riding their bikes!

Don’t have a bike or the means to get your bike there? No problem! The Bike Rack has you covered! Call (216) 771-7120 to reserve your bike seat! The number of bikes available for rent will be limited.

Tickets for Wild Ride are available online or at the zoo box office.

For further information visit


Becker, Thea Gallo. (2004). Images of America: Cleveland 1796-1929. Great Britain Arcadia Home Music Lifestyle Columns The AltOhio Story Collective Sports Page Good About Us Advertise With Us Publishing.

Grabski, Matthew Lee. (2005). Images of America: Cleveland’s Flats. Arcadia Publishing: Great Britain.

Van Tassel, David D (Ed.). Grabowski, John J. (Ed.). (1987). The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

This is part one of a series of articles that I have completed for AltOhio. In it, I detail the things that you could do in Cleveland at that time. A copy of the original article, as well as the rest of the series, can be found in the included links. 

Tremont Arts Festival

This was my first article for AltOhio. In it, I wrote up the annual Tremont Arts Festival and delved into the history of Tremont (a neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio). A copy of the original article can be found here. 

On Saturday September 17th and Sunday, September 18th, Tremont will be hosting their 13th annual arts and cultural festival at Lincoln Park. The park is located at 1208 Starkweather Avenue. Saturday the Festival starts at 11am and ends at 6pm. Sunday the festivities begin at 12pm and end at 5pm.

According to the Tremont West Development Corporation web site, “The mission of the Festival is to celebrate the cultural and artistic diversity of Tremont and Greater Cleveland by encouraging the artistic and cultural endeavors of its visual and performing artists”. What you can expect is food, music, dance and poetry performances, art your children can participate in as well as art that you can purchase.

On the surface, it may seem that the goal of this festival is to raise money solely through merchandising. This is not the case.

After speaking with Festival Manager Scott Rosenstein I learned about the beginnings and overall intent of this festival. In September of 1999, Rosenstein, along with several other residents, (notably Jean Brandt, founder of the Brandt Gallery, Tremont’s longest running art gallery) started this grass roots promotion of area artists. When questioned about the popularity of the festival over the past 13 years, Rosenstein feels that he is subjectively pious. Folks really look forward to it and Artists reactions to it have been favorable. Many of them have participated multiple times. This is with good reason, too.

It is standard procedure for the artists to submit a survey regarding their experience in the festival. Over the past two years, well more than half of the artists have had positive experiences with the park layout, the amount of sales they have made and the level of help they have received from the event staff.

Speaking as a former resident, I have often wondered what it was that attracted artists to Tremont. Initially, I thought that it was the churches. It’s the first thing that even a casual observer would notice. There are a lot of churches in this neighborhood. It doesn’t even matter which direction you from. I-71, I-90, I-490… All of them have a church within view.

According to “Cleveland on Foot” by Patience Hoskins, there are 25 multi-denominational churches within 1 square mile of this neighborhood. After speaking with Mr. Rosenstein as well as doing some research of my own, I have come to the conclusion that it is the combination of the religious presence of the area as well as the history of Tremont.

Take the site of this weekends festival, Lincoln Park, for example. In 1850, Mrs. Thirsa Pelton originally bought the site with the intention of opening a girl’s school. Unfortunately, she died before the school could be built. As a result, her heirs surrounded the park with a fence and locked the gates.

In response to this action, Tremont residents repeatedly tore the fence down because they felt that this was an area that should be open to the public. Bitter litigation ensued further resulting in the city’s purchase of the park.

The residents celebrated the opening of Pelton Park on July 4, 1880 with a barbecue and additional festivities. It wasn’t until 1896 that the park was renamed Lincoln Park. The history of this community runs deeper than most people, locals included, seem to realize. 

The original settlers of the neighborhood we now know as Tremont hailed from New England. These people were economically better off than most and they were in search of an area outside of downtown Cleveland to build their homes. They settled in Tremont in 1818.

In 1851, these same settlers, through a remarkably nebulous set of circumstances, decided that the area known as present-day Tremont would be the future site of Cleveland University.

Initially, classes began in an off-site location due to the fact that the future of the school depended on said proposed site. It was the intent that this area was to be named University Heights. Hence, the names of the streets like Literary, Professor, College, etc. After a full year of operation resulting in the awarding of 8 degrees, attendance declined rapidly during the fall of 1852.

By 1853, the idea of Cleveland’s first university was abandoned. Supposedly this was the result of a personality clash between members of the board of trustees. 8 years later, the Civil War started. While it’s fairly obvious where the war occurred very few people realize that Cleveland was the site of one of the largest Civil War camps.

In July of 1862, Camp Cleveland was organized and located in the area that is presently known as W. 5th, W. 7th, Railway Avenue and Marquardt Ave. For three years, the camp housed visiting units, confederate prisoners, and served as the training ground for 15,230 officers. The camp closed shortly after the end of the war in August of 1865.

Facts like these seem to be easily kicked to the side when it comes to the rejuvenation of a local area. While it is good on many levels that this sort of rejuvenation happens, people become more concerned about the trend that a local area produces as opposed to the history of that area. There really is no happy balance between the two.

Personally, I think it has to do with the fact that a lot of us had to suffer some very terrible history teachers throughout our formal education. We’ve been conditioned on some level to think that history is boring.

History isn’t boring. It, like everything else in life, is what you make of it. Tremont is a testament to this. With its flourishing restaurant scene, the economical growth that has been stimulated by shopping area known as Steelyard Commons, and its budding art scene, Tremont is well on its way to being a hotbed of Culture in Cleveland.

This was my first article for AltOhio. In it, I wrote up the annual Tremont Arts Festival and delved into the history of Tremont (a neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio). A copy of the original article can be found here. 

The Best Sandwich in Cleveland You’ve Never Heard Of

This post This story originally appeared on Parachute (an online magazine owned by MapQuest). A copy of the original article can be found here. 

Part of the allure of travel is trying out new things to eat. It’s only natural. You are an explorer that is out of their normal element in search of adventure. This is not to say that this task is without its challenges. Finding delicious local food, when you are not a local, can be quite a task.

In the event that your travels take you to the greater Cleveland Ohio area, I implore you to make the pilgrimage to Alesci’s Italian Deli in South Euclid and get yourself a Grinder. Your mouth will thank you.

It should be known that for the first 34 years of my life, I lived in Cleveland. While I may currently be residing in the South, I am a Cleveland-er. Once you have that mark on you, it will never come off. Go ahead and click the link above: you’re not going to find any mention of this masterpiece on their website.

That’s how good this sandwich is. Locals know about it. Locals love it. Do they want to keep it to themselves? Who’s to say? To put it into perspective for you: when my father was alive, he had made a point of introducing his children to the wonders of Alesci’s and their sandwiches (specifically the Grinder). For locals, including myself, this is more than a sandwich: it’s a heritage.

With respect to the Grinder itself, I’m not going to tell you what’s in it. Sure, that’s kind of mean and probably doesn’t help pique your interests but to be honest, I don’t know what’s in it. When I lived in that part of town as an adult, I’d never concern myself with the ‘whys’ and ‘where-fores’ of said sandwich. My only concern was getting one and getting it in my face-hole ASAP.

If you were to do a quick search of what a Grinder is, you will see that there are almost too many ways to make one and that they vary by regionality. How Alesci’s came upon the correct ingredients, in the correct order, most likely, has been lost to time. Alesci’s Grinder is a simple, flavorful, sandwich. Paired with your favorite beverage and you have one hell of a meal that you won’t soon forget.

This post This story originally appeared on Parachute (an online magazine owned by MapQuest). A copy of the original article can be found here.

Fort Walton Beach and the Pensacola Peoples.

This article originally appeared on Parachute (an online magazine owned by MapQuest). A copy of the original article can be found here. 

I will be the first to admit it: my neighborhood and the surrounding area looks a bit boring. There is no bustling metropolis. There is no ‘scene’ (art, music, or otherwise) to speak of. Even the local shopping mall leaves something to be desired. There is urban sprawl as far as the eye can see.

While it may appear that I am dumping on my current locale, I assure you I am not. I’m just telling you what I see on a daily basis. As I have mentioned before, when I relocated here with my family, my wife and I treated every time we left the house like an exploration.

On one of our journeys, I spied, with my beady little eye, The Fort Walton Beach Indian Temple Mound. It is located in one of the most easy to miss areas I have ever seen in my life. Located on a little triangle of land, bordered by Miracle Strip Parkway, Eglin Parkway SE, and Florida Place SE, The Indian Temple Mound is, in my mind, lost amidst the restaurants and tourist traps. It’s a sad but reasonable fact.

Fort Walton Beach sits on Destin’s backdoor. Both are equally nice cities but tourists go to Destin because it is the center jewel of the Emerald Coast. Additionally, both cities are economically happier when it’s tourist season.

One day last week I had a thought: “How many people know about the history of Fort Walton Beach and it’s Indian Temple Mound?”

The Fort Walton Beach Indian Temple Mound is believed to have been built around 800 CE by the Pensacola Peoples. From what archaeologists have been able to excavate, we have learned that the Pensacola Peoples have relied more on coastal resources despite the fact that they were very successful agriculturally. Additionally, we have learned that the mound itself served as the ‘town hall’. At it’s top was the temple and residence of the Tribal Chief. Surrounding the mound at it’s base was where everyone else was presumed to live. As the chief died, it was believed that he was buried in the mound. After his burial, another layer of earth was added to it. Hence the mound’s large stature.

Eventually the mound was believed to have been abandoned in the 1600’s. One of the more popular theories has to do with the growing Anglo-Saxon occupation of the country at the time.

In the 19th century the mound was put back into use when the area at large was re-inhabited by the Confederates during the Civil War. During this time, the mound served as a camp for those who were ordered to guard the Santa Rosa Sound and the Choctawhatchee Bay.

In the 1960s, a museum was established on the mound holding the esteem of being Florida’s first municipally owned and operated museum. While there is something to be said for having a gluttonous and lethargic vacation soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible, and while it is reasonable to think that there really isn’t much to the city that you call home, it never hurts to look to the past in order to see what came before you.

The Indian Temple Mound Museum is located at: 139 Miracle Strip Parkway SE Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32548 Their normal hours of operation are: Monday through Friday 12:00pm – 4:30pm Saturday 10:00am to 4:30pm

This article originally appeared on Parachute (an online magazine owned by MapQuest). A copy of the original article can be found here. 

Top 5 Overlooked Parks in NW Florida.

This story originally appeared on Parachute (an online magazine owned by MapQuest). A copy of the article can be found here.

When it comes to divining the ‘rhyme or reason’ surrounding essentially anything in Northwest Florida, most people (read: non-Floridians) are typically left scratching their heads.

The other day, I was considering the numerous idiosyncrasies that I have encountered over the past couple of years that I have lived here. I was out accomplishing errands and towards the end of my sojourn is when I saw it. It was a nature trail trailhead tucked in between two houses. The sign at the front of the trailhead read ‘Glenwood Park’. When I got home, I did some quick Googling and soon found out that there were other parks like Glenwood in the area. (Honestly: Would you think to look for the trailhead of a ‘nature’ park in between two homes?) With that, I present to you my list of the top 5 easily overlooked parks in Northwest Florida.

Glenwood Park

Glenwood Park is located south of Laguna Park on NE Opp Boulevard in the town of Cinco Bayou, Florida. This ‘blink and you miss it’ park has a boardwalk that is over 600 feet long and a nature trail that falls just short of 800 feet. Regardless of size, both paths offer a view of unique birds and wildlife. While the park doesn’t have an exact address, you can get the general idea of where it is by looking at this.

Meigs Neighborhood Park

Meigs Neighborhood Park hardly qualifies as a ‘park’ in the traditional sense of the word. Even the casual out-of-towner would say, ‘There used to be a house there’, because that is exactly what it looks like. It looks like the city tore down a house, put up a gazebo and a pier, did some landscaping, and called it a day. Regardless, Meigs Neighborhood Park provides a nice comma to the surrounding, suburban landscape. Meigs Neighborhood Park is located off of Shalimar Drive.

Meigs Park

Not to be confused with Meigs Neighborhood Park, Meigs Park is a 5 minute drive southwest and is often considered the cooler, older sibling to Meigs Neighborhood Park what with its boat ramp and sandy beach that both provide access to the Choctawhatchee Bay. In general, this park certainly falls underneath the header ‘easily missed’ and definitely gives the uninitiated the feeling that they may be trespassing since your only way in (and out) is via a long driveway. Meigs Park is located at 45A Meigs Drive, in Shalimar Florida.

Ferry Park

Out of the 5 Parks included in this list, Ferry Park is the most ‘park-like’. It’s also one of the easier parks to find. This facility has tennis courts, an in-line hockey court, a 1- mile fitness trail, and a disc golf course. In the even that you are a parent and you’re just looking for a place to take your spawn so that they can burn off their seemingly infinite supply of energy, Docie Bass Park (what the city named the children’s play area) shares the land with Ferry Park and has some pretty sweet looking jungle gyms. Ferry Park is located at 240 Hughes St NE, Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Turkey Creek Park

Rounding out our list of easily overlooked parks is Turkey Creek Park. Turkey Creek Nature Trail & Pavilion offers a huge, well kept picnic pavilion and a boardwalk that is 3/4 of a mile long. Want to know something more? There are multiple access points to the creek for swimming. That’s right: Turkey Creek is the local ‘swimming hole’. This is the south after all. Turkey Creek Park is located at 340 John Sims Pkwy West, in Niceville, Florida.

This story originally appeared on Parachute (an online magazine owned by MapQuest). A copy of the article can be found here.