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Snow Days

Winterfest packs in tons of seasonal fun.

by and

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Winterfest.
  • Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Winterfest.

12/5-12/13

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.

THU 12/4

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

Tree Spree
Ride the rails, take home some timber at CVSC's Adventure.

12/6-12/14

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

Swing Thing

SAT 12/6

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

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