Tips on How To Celebrate a Championship

By now, you’ve heard we, the collective residents of Northeastern Ohio, have been doing some celebrating since Sunday night. And we’ve been fully entitled to it: 52 years of a major professional sports drought will make a fan base stir crazy! So it was only appropriate that the city of Cleveland bring us together on the streets of downtown for the biggest celebration any of us could ever imagine.

The catch? We haven’t done a soiree of this size before, at least not any time in recent history. And the event professional in me couldn’t take some mental notes on what really worked and what could have been more successful. So here’s a few tips for all of us to remember for next time… which based on how the Indians are playing, might not be to far away!

cavs parade east 9th

First, for the poor souls in charge of planning these types of affairs:

Throw some extra money at the following:

  • Crowd barricades: I can’t tell you how many times we had a front row spot, and then didn’t.
  • Amenities in the port-o-potties: Thanks to whomever realized ordering them was a great idea. Next time: quadruple the toilet paper order.
  • Trash cans: We would have been happy to help with the clean up efforts if there were somewhere to conveniently put our rubbish!
  • Public transportation: If you haven’t read this Cleveland Scene article on the RTA killin’ their Twitter game yesterday, click on over.
  • Bonuses for the Cleveland Police: The police officers worked so hard yesterday and deserve so much more than the “good job” I can offer.

Invite any other regional sports legends that have ever won a championship.

cavs parade legends

Not pictured: The Lake Erie Monsters team with the Calder Cup.

Remind entertainment acts that mounting road signage might not be the best idea.

cavs parade mkg

Oh, MGK…

Provide back up t-shirts for parade participants. 

cavs parade no shirt

Just kidding — they ain’t going to wear them anyways.

Now, for those of us crazy enough to attend:

Make plans ASAP.  I know this was a fast turnaround, less than 48 hours even, but do what you can to be prepared. If you’re employed, make sure to give your employer as much notice as you can (and to get ahead of those pesky coworkers who waited til the last minute and were stuck back at the office yesterday.)  Find a small backpack situation and pack bottled water and snacks. Sure there were food trucks nearby, but really — do you want to be eating chicken wings while elbow to elbow with all of Cleveland, Ohio? And SUNSCREEN. My uneven tan lines and Rudolph-the-Reindeer-looking nose implores you.

Be flexible when your plans go South.  As all of Northeastern Ohio was encouraged to consider public transportation as the way to go, I spent way too much time on Tuesday resesarching my rapid and bus options. What happened when we woke up Wednesday? We jumped in our car and drove downtown. The parking gods gifted us with a $10 lot only a 15-minute walk away from Progressive Field. If I stuck with my over-thought out, original plan, we would have been stuck in line for a rapid at parade start time.

Have your camera ready at all times.  You never know when that guy who scored the winning shot will drive by.

kyrie irving cavs parade

Oh hey, Kyrie…

Be ready to have your photo taken at any moment.  Some will be the stuff Facebook profile photos are made of. Some will be a remembrance of your 21 and a half week baby bump. (I gotta start remembering to take those weekly progress photos!)

cavs parade hans and alicia

For the love of God, do NOT bring your dog.  Now service dogs I understand. What I’m talking about? Think like if I brought Grady down with us. I saw two poor fuzzes who looked terrified out of their minds. Please leave your fuzzes in the peace and quiet (and hopefully air conditioning) of your home with the television or radio on tuned into the festivities! They will be very happy you didn’t take them out in this:

cavs parade full crowd shot

Not my photo, but I don’t know who originally took it either — if you do, let me know so I can credit!

You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.  With 1.3 million of your closest friends and soon-to-be friends abound, things are bound to get tight and probably cranky. Those who I heard yell and scream to get their way yesterday actually didn’t, and those who remembered to use “please” and “thank you” still managed to make it to the front row to get up close and personal with their favorite players.

Make way for the King.  We waited in the hot, summer sun all day long (after waiting 52 years for a championship) to celebrate what this man promised us:

lebron james cavs parade

…so give the man and his Rolls-Royce some room. There was plenty of space for all of us to share our gratitude. (And thanks to my husband and his brother for sticking it out to the bitter end to take this photo from the front row of the crowd.)

Call it a day when you’ve had enough.  At five months pregnant, a few loved ones (and Facebook friends) thought I was nuts for heading downtown into the madness that was yesterday. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but I also knew to be realistic about how much I could do and for how long.  And when I was at 85% of my limit, I grabbed our car keys from Hans, made sure he had a ride home and headed back to Parma to watch the rally presentation on WKYC. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day that we’ll all never forget.

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the time we won a championship (AKA what my husband taught me about being a sports fan)

If you know my husband Hans what so ever, you know he’s one of the biggest Cleveland sports fans around.  His childhood bedroom (which until this very weekend remained untouched until we started prep for our baby’s nursery) was a tribute to the ’95 and ’97 Indians. He’s been a Cavs season ticket holder. His Browns hoodie is one of his favorite sweatshirts. He owns more than ten Cavs jerseys. If a Cleveland sporting event is in play, it’s on our television or radio. If there’s not, the sounds of Mike & Mike, the Really Big Show or 92.3 the Fan are bound to be coming out of a speaker nearby. After much debate, our Golden Retriever was to be named either after a Cleveland Indians’ outfielder or Sloopy of Ohio State fame. And if all of that doesn’t sound like all that much, he has personally submitted more than 100,000 NBA All Star ballots for LeBron James. You call yourself a super fan? You’ve not met my husband.

That said, you can see why I’ve been known to call myself a sports widow. I gave up the fight between switching between The Today Show and SportsCenter while eating breakfast in the morning. I’ve learned to not schedule family happenings between 1pm and 5pm on Sundays in the Fall. I even took care to put all the 2016 Cavs playoff games in my Google Calendar to know when Hans would be at his best friend’s dad’s house watching the game. Sure, have I gotten surly about this obsession at times over the years? Of course. But I knew just how much being a supporter of Cleveland and its home teams meant to him – especially how happy it made him when they won. But oh how the tides turned when they didn’t win, and his never ending heartbreak broke my heart to watch.

To be honest: I was afraid to get excited for this year’s championship run. Yes, I know we were the number one seed in the East. Yes, I know we had a healthy Kyrie and Love. Yes, I know we found ourselves with a new coach mid-season that did his job while giving LeBron room to be the leader he is. But too many years of drives, fumbles, shots, moves and decisions taught me to not get caught up in fairy tale endings. No matter how many times I watched  the documentary, Believeland, I couldn’t bring myself to believe that we’d finally have our time as champions this year.

But something in me changed yesterday. Sunday morning, I woke to a combination of nerves, plus the dangerous combination of pregnancy hormones and cravings. What I couldn’t pin point at the time was the vibe in the air even palpable in our suburb ten or so miles away from downtown. Something was telling me we had to go experience a part of the day first-hand ourselves.

cavs all in sundaeOhio City quickly got me out of my funk and got us in the mood with lunch at Johnny Mango and a Cavs inspired All In sundae (a warmed brownie, vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, fresh whipped cream, dinosaur sprinkles and a Bordeaux cherry). Within an hour and a half, we were committed to venturing downtown to drive around to check out the scene.

alicia and hans all in q arena

Driving around turned into walking around: meandering down Euclid Avenue, to East Fourth, over to Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavs team shop. Every step we took, Hans’ smile got bigger and my faith in what was about to happen that evening grew stronger. Cranky, disillusioned part-time sports fan me found herself with a new Cavs Finals t-shirt, ready to join her hubby with his best friend and his family for one last game, one last shot this season at what hadn’t been accomplished since 1964.

…and well, we all know what happened by 11 o’clock that evening is now sports history.

hans cavs championship

I watched every single minute of last night’s game, but what I remember most is the minute or so right after the final buzzer went off —- the absolute, complete joy of a life-long Cleveland sports fan experiencing the moment that some of us thought would never happen. But Hans had faith that his team, the home team, would finally prevail. And out of all the things I love most about my husband, his tenacious, never-ending faith in knowing that if you just believed hard enough, prayed hard enough, worked hard enough — good things would come. What you dreamed of would finally appear in your life, and exactly at the moment it was supposed to arrive… even 52 years later.

As for me? No question, kids: I’m now all in on that same train of thought. For our sports teams. For our city. For our family. For myself.

all in east 4th

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GIVEAWAY: 6th annual Parma Run/Walk for Pierogies

Pro fitness tip: if you’re not outside this time of year, you’re doing it wrong. And after watching my husband rock his half marathon last month, I’ve been dreaming of getting back into the running game. We have even already ordered our BOB stroller to make sure Baby Hansen gets out with us when the time comes. But in the meantime, I’m happy to spread the word about my favorite local race: the Parma Run/Walk for Pierogies.

parma run walk for pierogies 2016

The 6th annual Parma Run/Walk for Pierogies will take place on Saturday, July 2, 2016 starting at 8:30AM at Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus in Parma. Proceeds from the event benefit Parma Charitable Fund, Honor Flight Cleveland and CCC-Scholarships. All participants receive:

  • A short sleeve cotton t-shirt (guaranteed for the first 600 pre-registered participants — a previous t-shirt example can be seen below)
  • Post race food and drinks — including pierogies, of course!
  • Awards to top finishers
  • B-Tag timing results — so you know exactly how fast you made it across the finish line!

pierogie run medals

That’s friend and race organizer Parma Council President Sean Brennan (@BrennanForParma on Twitter) second from the left, rocking his pierogi medal!

Registration is $20 for adults for either the 5K or the 1 Mile Fun Walk, and $10 for kids 11 and under. There’s also a Family Pack: register 3 or more from the same address for $50! The registration rate increases if you wait to sign up day of, so register at the Hermes Cleveland site today… or you can enter to win a 5K race entry to their July 2nd event here on the blog this week via the Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have until THIS THURSDAY, June 16th at 11:59PM to enter. A winner will be announced the next morning on the PIP Facebook page.  As this is a local event taking place in Cleveland, I highly encourage entries by those that can attend the 5K on Saturday, June 2nd.

Learn more about the Parma Run/Walk for Pierogies: Visit the race website, give the restaurant a like on Facebook and a follow on Twitter.  And get ready to eat Parma’s finest and well-know delicacy!

Disclosure: Images ℅ Parma Run/Walk for Pierogies. I was invited to share information about this July 2nd 5K via a race entry giveaway for one lucky blog reader. I will receive a complimentary race entry for this event. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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