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Recent Cleveland Discoveries

Dazzle the District

As part of its dramatic neighborhood transformation, in early May Cleveland’s Playhouse Square (home to the second largest performing arts district in the country) dazzled the city with an extravagant street party that culminated in the lighting of a 20’-high outdoor chandelier. Gracing the intersection of E. 14th Street and Euclid Avenue, in the center of the theatre district, its 4,200 crystals and 44-foot high steel structure have made it The Guinness Book of World Record’s official largest outdoor chandelier.

Three days before it was illuminated, our Tour Director was leading the Road Scholars (formerly Elder Hostel) on a group tour of Cleveland. Included was a backstage tour of Playhouse Square, complete with a stop on the stage of the Ohio Theatre. While there, the group was joined by camera men from WEWS, channel 5, and local television personality Leon Bibb, who was preparing a story for the chandelier-lighting party. It was the first time one of our Cleveland group tours was filmed as part of a story for the evening news

Convention Shuttle Service Extraordinaire

Working in the Destination Management business, there are many challenging days. When the unexpected happens, you have to think on your feet. Take this past June. I was contracted by the Cleveland Clinic to shuttle 400 conference attendees from the conference venue to an evening reception five miles east. A simple request. Except, it was the last day of Marine Week. The center of town, Public Square, had turned into a Marine encampment with streets closed to traffic. And due to the congestion, the buses were not allowed to “stack” in front of the hotel lobby doors as usual. They were told to wait five blocks away. No problem. My staff knew they would have to call the buses up one by one to the hotel in order to load the passengers. A bit of logistics, but not difficult. Except, it started to rain. No, pour. No, really pour. And to top it off, the end of Marine Week was due to be celebrated any minute by a helicopter arriving in Public Square, so everything would be blocked. Time to call the police. Yes, a friendly Cleveland Police Department Sergeant, who was directing traffic through the mess. After hearing our plight, he called for a police escort for the buses through the roadblocks to the hotel and out to the reception. Saving all 400 conference-goers from having to walk around a helicopter through the rain just to catch a bus. Instead, they arrived safe and dry for their evening festivities. That’s why I love this job. I can’t always guarantee a police escort, but I can promise to make your event happen without hitting a roadblock.

This is a story of perspective

A few months ago I was the tour director for a group of dairy farmers and their wives from Melbourne, Australia. We toured the city of Cleveland, drove through the fall foliage in northeast Ohio, went up to the mighty Niagara Falls, and on to Boston and Washington, DC. They liked the countryside. The monuments and buildings were all fine. But what really caught their attention — what they were fascinated with at every stop — were the squirrels. You see, Australia has no squirrels. Now, it took me a minute to adjust. I am used to customizing tours for groups. Taking them through the best of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Traversing lighthouses, touring the Amish country and wineries. I know those subjects by heart. But this was on the fly and the subject was a ground rodent. So, I told them everything I knew about the furry beasts, all the while thinking, “What’s the big deal about squirrels, anyway?” Then it hit me. If I were traveling in their country? If I were touring Australia? The buildings and the Opera House might be nice and all. But, I sure wouldn’t want to miss the kangaroos.