- Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Winterfest.
Cindy Jamison won't ever forget her first Northeast Ohio snowfall four years ago. She had just moved to Lakewood from Jacksonville, Florida. "I was downtown on Public Square on a Friday night, and it just looked as magical as I thought it would be," she recalls.
That's why Jamison is so into Winterfest, a series of holiday-tree lightings, trolley tours, and downtown parties happening in the city this season. "I think this [is the] year to find a celebration that's so big and compelling that it [will] bring everyone downtown," says Lee Hill, president of Downtown Cleveland Partnership, the city's main cheerleader.
The merry-making includes this weekend's Urban Arts Trolley Hop (where you can shuttle around the city to 40 galleries and art-crazy retailers); the Cleveland Museum of Art's Winter Lights Lantern Festival, which starts Friday; and a Victorian horse-and-buggy parade down Euclid Avenue and fireworks on Public Square on December 13. "Make sure you visit Santa Claus when you're there," says Mayor Jane Campbell. "And when you make a wish, make it not only for yourself, but for everybody in Cleveland." Winterfest runs through December 13 at various locations throughout Cleveland. Admission is free; go to www.cleveland.com/winterfest. -- Cris Glaser
P.I.M.P.ing Is Easy
Make a love connection at an instant message party.
Tommy Catanese admits he's a P.I.M.P. He works it every week at the Public Instant Message Party -- an electronic dating game at gay bar R/Evolution. "It's sorta like being in a chat room, only you see the guy you wanna go out with," Catanese says. On the bar's computer, pick a screen name, find someone you'd like to meet, bang out a pickup line, and send it to the display board for everyone to see. If your target wants to make a love connection, you'll both be entered in a drawing for dinner. If the romance continues a year, you'll be eligible for tickets to the Bahamas -- which sounds good to Catanese. "This time next year," he says, "you'll see me at the blackjack tables with my new honey." P.I.M.P.ing starts at 11 p.m. Thursday at R/Evolution, 117 East Market Street in Akron. Admission is free. For more information, call 330-374-7830. -- Cris Glaser
Ride the rails, take home some timber at CVSC's Adventure.
Folks who take part in the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's Christmas Tree Adventure -- where passengers choose and cut down holiday pines -- won't have to stuff their booty into overhead compartments. "We put [the trees] in the baggage car," explains CVSR President Doug Cooper. The train takes participants to Peninsula's Heritage Farms, where they can pull a Paul Bunyan on some lumber or choose a pre-cut tree. It's a four-and-a-half-hour excursion; travelers should plan to spend some time outdoors. It happens at 10:15 a.m. Saturday and Sunday through December 14 at the railroad's station on Old Rockside Road in Independence. Tickets are $21, $14 for kids. Reservations are recommended; call 800-468-4070. -- Allen Miller
Bobby sox and pigtails aren't required for the Friday Swing Dance. But it wouldn't hurt -- if your feet can keep a beat to Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw tunes. Don't know how to swing? The pros will give a one-hour lesson before the Tony Carmen Band takes over the joint. The swinging starts at 8 p.m. Friday at Timmons Elementary School, 9595 East Washington Road in Bainbridge Township. Tickets are $5 to $10; call 440-543-2552. -- Cris Glaser