event recap: 2014 Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis

As I continue to let go of my event planning days, I’m  enjoying being a guest, attendee and participant at local functions again. No longer do I walk into a room and ask “I wonder where they rented their linens from” or “I hope there’s enough space for that restaurant vendor in that corner”. It’s hard to turn off the event-logistics monkey mind!

But in an attending the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis here in Cleveland this past weekend, I would find myself with my biggest post-event-planning-career challenge to date. But as I planned this race in 2012 and in 2013 as a former employee of the organization, I knew it would be easy to fall into the fun.

lets go grady dog picmonkey

 {Grady’s excitement just could not be reigned in.}

Our team — Team Grinch Paws — came together in full force: my husband, my brother, my friends and I joined together on Sunday, December 14th at Legacy Village. We of course started with a pre-race Starbucks pit stop.

baby j's first 5K

I was so happy that Jen from WhyCLE? and her family signed up to walk the one-mile Family Fun Run option. Baby J seemed to love every moment of his first 5K experience. He’ll be running the full 3.1 miles in no time!

As the rest of our team ventured out for the full 5K, Grady and I made up our own two mile version of the course. Grady’s excitement for the day had us power walking at a good clip! As we went along, it was a joy to come across friendly faces, even crossing paths with the event photographer, Orville from Orville McEachron Photography:

10869482_393189920833335_2788335850565453133_o

{Photo ℅ Orville McEachron Photography — check out all 400+ of the race photos over at his Facebook page.}

Confession: In planning this event twice, Sunday was the first time I actually walked the course. (We drove it several times each year, don’t worry.) I know understand what the runners meant by this being a more challenging 5K than others in the Northeast Ohio area — there are a few rolling hills through the old TRW campus that make for a good hike!

LONG STORY SHORT: Team Grinch Paws did wonderfully at this year’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis! My brother Drew finished second in his age group with a 20:15 — such a speed demon!  Lisa — @lisasands1 over on the Twitter — rocked her first 5K after taking time to train this Fall.  My non-runner husband Hans “enjoyed” his last minute decision to run the 3.1 miles. (We’re working on our post-run stretch routine for next year!)

Photo Dec 14, 10 33 03 AM

As for Grady and I, we walked our two mile course in a little over a half an hour, making time to stop and say hi to some old friends and work colleagues along the way. It felt great to be out in the brisk December air supporting an important cause working towards eliminating a disease that effects more than 1.3 million Northeastern Ohioans. Supporting a local non-profit, getting in some exercise and having a highly enjoyable time? What a great start to our Sunday!

Want to donate to the Arthritis Foundation? You can click over to our team page and still give through this month. Thank you in advance!

Want to stay in the know for 2015?  Keep up to date with all the CLE Jingle Bell Run/Walk happenings by following its Twitter handle at @JingleBellCLE.

Disclosure: I am a former employee of the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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know before you go: PlayhouseSquare’s Jump Back Ball

There are many signs around Cleveland that spring is on its way.  Maybe you notice them while driving through the Metroparks, or how people slowly start to come out of hibernation. For me, that first signal of spring is the anticipation of another Jump Back Ball, hosted by PlayhouseSquare’s Partners.

I’ve attended this event in 2013 and in 2011, and been kept up-to-date on the plans for this year by the kind crew at PlayhouseSquare as well as a few of the Partners themselves. So without more hold up, here’s what you should know before you go to the 2014 Jump Back Ball:

Jump Back Ball

Pre-game for the party — by taking it easy.

This tip comes from Amanda at Clue Into Cleveland, a Jump Back Ball veteran.  Sure, the event is on a Saturday, so you might be tempted to do a bunch of errands, clean your house or take a three hour yoga workshop (no, just me?) earlier that day. Just remember that you’ll be partying the night away so you’ll want to save some energy. Why not catnap instead?

Eat up the food by some of Cleveland’s finest culinary minds.

If you treated yourself to VIP tickets, Dante Boccuzzi has a lovely spread in store for you in the Palace Theatre during the early hours of the event.  (Check out Dante on Fox 8 promoting the event here - and yes, I will be making that polenta recipe at home.) On the main stage, Driftwood Restaurant Group – lead by NEO favorites Scott Kuhn and Chris Hodgson – is ready to treat you to quite the meal. We’re going to eat so well on Saturday, so maybe sneak in some cardio on Friday!  

Tap into your inner actor and own center stage.

This is your opportunity to see what the view of the State Theatre looks like from the main stage – one of my favorite component of galas held at PlayhouseSquare. Upon arrival to the main event, head straight into the theater and right up those stairs to bask in the stage lights while sipping your martini (shaken, not stirred, OF COURSE) with your fellow party go-ers.

Take time to enjoy the custom made scenery. 

Volunteers deck out the theatre spaces with decorations that rival professional set designs. It’s one of my favorite parts of how their supporters pull together to create a unique event while getting in touch with their artistic sides. Again, head over to Clue Into Cleveland for a sneak peek on this year’s decor.

Admire some fun fashions and charactered costumes.

Even this yoga pants enthusiast buckled down and found a special outfit for a night of dressing up – thanks to the non-profit for the shout out in this post this week and for sharing my Instagram photo. It’s not too late for you to jump in on the costumed fun: here’s another PlayhouseSquare blog post with some ideas you can still pull off.

jump back ball sparkle

There’s a bar in the ladies’ restroom.

You’ll thank me for this when the lines at the main stage are a bit longer then the ones for the restroom stalls. I have no idea if there’s one in the men’s. Perhaps this year I should have Hans report back, ha!

Bring your dancing shoes.

…because you’ll be dancing all night to the sounds of Your Villain My Hero on the main stage and Pop Rocks in the lobby towards the end of the evening. Also because who doesn’t love a good dance party?!

Find yourself an invite to a JBB after party.

Just cause the ticket says the event goes until 12AM doesn’t mean that the party ends. Make some friends and before you know it, you might be somewhere else other than home by 12:30!

Still looking for more tips? Check out PlayhouseSquare’s first timers guide which includes all the important things you need to know. Stay up-to-date with all of their happenings and events – follow PlayhouseSquare on Facebook, on Twitter at @playhousesquare, on Instagram at @playhousesquare or by searching the hashtag #JBB23.

So the big question: who will I see this Saturday night at JBB23?  

Disclosure: I was asked by PlayhouseSquare to serve as an official blogger for the 2014 Jump Back Ball event and to help promote the event and related happenings. In exchange for sharing  information and purchasing one event ticket, I will receive one complimentary ticket to the February 22, 2014 event. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

know before you go: Cleveland Zoological Society’s Animal Attractions

As a nearby resident of one of CLE’s favorite attractions, I enjoy serving as one of the Cleveland Zoological Society’s bloggers every year. And between blogging for their wonderful events and even working for an organization that hosts an annual event at the Zoo, it feels like I should be paying them rent some times!!

I’ll be moving back in very soon as the Cleveland Zoological Society’s Animal Attractions is less than two weeks away on Thursday, February 6th – inside the Zoo’s RainForest. And after attending in 2012 and 2013, here’s what you should know before you go

know before you go animal attractions

Be ready to eat earlier in the evening.

This year’s Animal Attractions food vendors include:

  • AMP 150
  • Cleveland Cupcake Company
  • Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen
  • Creekside Restaurant & Bar
  • Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company
  • House of Blues Cleveland
  • Rosander Event Kitchen
  • Vitamix
  • Whole Foods Market Cedar Center

…but be ready to eat in the 6 o’clock hour if you can get their after work in time. The Zoological staff have plenty of other surprises up their sleeves for the evening – you wouldn’t want to be distracted from all the fun!

AMP150 short rib

AMP 150′s short rib offering from the 2013 event. (I might have gone back for seconds… and considered thirds…)

The food and beverage is located in more than one spot – and on more than one floor.

From 6-9pm, guest will enjoy all those restaurant offerings, an open bar and Jacob’s Creek wine tastings. But don’t assume just because there’s a great set up in the cafe area that that means that’s the only spot to find food and beverage. Plenty of those vendors are scattered in the exhibits. So grab a plate and/or a glass to start, then start to wander around!

Get ready to learn something too.

There will also be the opportunity to get to know the Rainforest’s and Zoo’s animal inhabitants, including the following Zoo employees and their presentations:

  • Andi Kornak with 50 Shades of Grey – Part II (all about the elephants)
  • Travis Vineyard with Bear Foot and Pregnant (all about the bears)
  • Jim Nemet with That’s the Way I like It (all about the various education department animals)

Dress appropriately…

…you will be in a Rainforest after all! The event is business casual, so a layer under that suit jacket might not be a bad idea. Don’t forget that it’s 80 degrees inside!

Tickets are still available!

Animal Attractions tickets are $60 for Zoo members and $65 for non-members. Since alcohol is served, you must be 21 or older to attend. Monies raised will benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society and its ability to continue to give Clevelanders a wonderful place to visit.

Purchase tickets at ClevelandZooSociety.org before they sell out!

Stay up-to-date with all of the Zoo Society’s happenings and events – we’ll be talking about Twlight at the Zoo and Night at the Zoovies before you know it…

Disclosure: I was offered two media passes to Animal Attractions in return for sharing this information. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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