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A Conversation with a Community Partner

It’s hard not to think about water here in Cleveland. To us Lake Erie is our backyard and we see it every day, but the Great Lakes contain about 90% of the United States’ freshwater supply. That’s why in advance of World Water Day (March 22nd) Greater Cleveland Aquarium General Manager Stephanie White decided to check in with our community partner, Drink Local. Drink Tap.

SW: I am here with DLDT’s Wavemaker Program Manager Kristine and with Matt, Education Coordinator at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. Kristine, tell us a little bit about the mission and activities of Drink Local. Drink Tap.

KN: Sure! The mission at Drink Local. Drink Tap. is three-fold. We help to educate about the global water crisis, improve water equity for those in need, and get people engaged in helping to protect our water.

SW: What type of local and international activities do you have with your programs?

KN: Locally we have our Wavemaker Education Program where we go into schools and speak with students about the global water crisis and how they can get involved here in Northeast Ohio. On a global level, we work in Uganda bringing water and sanitation to rural, needy areas.

SW: What sparked your interest in water access?

KN: I was living and traveling throughout Asia and I saw how differently people experienced water depending on where they lived and their socioeconomic status. When I moved back to Cleveland I met Drink Local. Drink Tap. Founder & Executive Director Erin Huber Rosen in 2011 as the nonprofit was really getting off the ground and I decided to get involved and volunteer. Over the years I participated in beach cleanups and various events. Eventually I started working with the Wavemaker program and in 2019 I officially became a staff member.

SW: Over the years we’ve partnered with you for the United Nations’ World Water Day, which is part of your Wavemaker program. Tell us a little more about how you engage with students?

KN: Our program goes into schools and we speak with students directly in classrooms or during assemblies. Obviously doing everything virtually right now. We try to educate children on the global water crisis and share how people experience water so differently. You know, we’re really blessed in Northeast Ohio to have so much water here. We have our Lake Erie, we have rivers and we have plenty of rain and snowfall. That’s not how people experience water all over the world. We’re trying to raise awareness and hopefully bring some of that to their thought process on a daily basis and encourage them to get involved—to come to beach cleanups, to change their daily and to consider water as a basic necessity of life and not something we just turn on a tap and use without thinking about it at all.

SW: As you said, this time we’re all virtual, but in the past, Matt, what did World Water Day look like here at the Aquarium?

MD: World Water Day has always been one of my favorite days here on-site. In past years, hundreds of local schoolkids came to celebrate water. They did water-related activities before experiencing the exhibits and animals. I think my favorite part of the day has been the palpable energy and excitement that the students feel about water. As an educator, it was inspiring to see children getting excited about an important topic.

SW: Hopefully this year we can have that same excitement but on a virtual platform. Kristine, can you talk us through how you’re going to celebrate in 2021?

KN: We are holding a virtual event, which allows anyone to join from anywhere and we’re not limited to who can physically get to us. We’ll be offering a virtual fieldtrip for the students where we have exhibitors who are holding a booth. Students can migrate in and out of the booths and find out about the various organizations and how they pertain to water. We’ll also have a portion where Erin Huber Rosen, the Executive Director of Drink Local.Drink Tap., and I will be hold a live piece. We’ll talk about various topics and engage with participants. Then we also have a student youth activist from Uganda that we’re going to connect with and hear from, so we’re super excited about that.

SW: I know the Aquarium is part of that too. Kristine was just saying clean water is critical for all life and important for us. Matt, what’s one message that you share with your students while your educating, whether it’s on this one particular day or 365 days of the year?

MD: I like to stress that it can feel like we have unlimited water, right? Day in and day out, for most of us here in this area we can turn on the faucet and water comes out to use and drink. But less than 1% of all water on Earth is available for us to use. In terms of a global scale, there’s really not that much water left for all human beings on Earth to use and our population is still growing. It’s really important that students coming through this building start to get a sense that it is a limited resource. It is finite. You should do everything you can to make small changes in your daily life as you think about water as a resource and how you can conserve it.

SW: So then what is your favorite tip to share with your students as to how they can participate in water conservation at home?

MD: Since most of our students are younger, I try to keep it simple for them, something easy to remember. I really stress trying to drink more tap water if you can does multiple good things for our Earth. For one, it takes more water to create a plastic bottle than actual amount of water inside that bottle, which is really crazy to think about. It also takes oil to produce plastic which is giving out CO2 into the environment. And then many of these water bottles that people are buying from the store, these single-use bottles, do end up as litter, unfortunately, which can then end up in our waterways. Just trying to drink a little more tap water than you have in the past and reducing the number of single-use bottles you are buying can make a huge difference overall.

KN:  I fully agree with everything Matt said. Reducing our single-use plastics is one of the biggest and most important steps in the right direction. And I would also suggest just a change in your thought process—thinking differently about water, about how you use water and about how the things we do use water. Not only brushing our teeth or taking a shower, but the things we buy and use require water. Just thinking differently and sharing what you’ve learned with others is important. If people don’t know there’s a problem they can’t do anything to help, so spread the word.

SW: Kristine, I saw on your website that just $30 can bring safe drinking water to one person for life. If anyone wants to donate to Drink Local. Drink Tap., what would their donation do?

KN: Right now our Wavemaker program is working to fund a project for Mbaale Primary School. They are in desperate need of clean water and sanitation. There are hundreds of students, teachers and local villagers who are using a latrine that was constructed by the school head teacher and some parent volunteers and unfortunately it’s not safe. It’s falling apart. These students end up going in the bush which is highly problematic, especially for young girls. Our focus right now is funding a latrine project for that school. If we aren’t able to come up with a solution for them quite quickly the school will have to close down. That’s how severe the problem is right now. Once we can raise for that, we’re going to then switch for that same school to a borehole to bring them clean water. W

SW: Wow! So a donation really could make a difference.

KN: Oh, it makes a huge difference. Like you said, $30 can bring one Ugandan water for life. That really is completely life-changing. It allows children to go to school instead of fetching water. It keeps them safe because they’re not traveling long distances by themselves to get that water. It allows for basic dignity. Even a small donation makes a really huge difference.

SW: Thank you for joining us today, Kristine, and for the conversation. Thank you Matt for taking time out of virtual tours. I look forward to March 22nd. Happy World Water Day!

To learn more about the water equity issues and supporting the nonprofit’s projects and programming, visit drinklocaldrinktap.org.

A Conversation with a Community Partner: United Black Fund

We partner annually with the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland. Greater Cleveland Aquarium GM had a virtual conversation with UBF’s Cecil Lipscomb and Lizzie Thompson to talk about how their organization and the agencies it empowers are making a positive difference for children and families in Northeast Ohio.

I am Stephanie White, General Manager of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, and I am joined virtually by Cecil and Lizzie from the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland. Please tell us all a little bit about the work your organization does here in Northeast Ohio.

CECIL LIPSCOMB, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Sure, I’ll be happy to. I’ll start with our mission, which is basically to acquire, accumulate and allocate funds to non-profits to alleviate suffering in poverty and illiteracy. We also want to strengthen the tradition and ethic of giving in the African-American community and empower the African-American community through education.

We’re really proud of our agencies and the work that they have been engaged in over the years. I’ll call out a few. Curtis Freed is the Executive Director of Strong Hands United. He actually engages and reconnects families from formerly incarcerated parents. We want to make certain that the family structure is able to maintain a whole position in the city. We work with another program called Beat the Streets, which is led by Demetrius Williams. He started a youth wrestling program out of the back of his house in the garage and now he has wrestlers that go all around the country and have won national titles. Leading Ladies is an afterschool program that teaches civic responsibility and engagement through giving back in terms of philanthropic endeavors. Then there’s Duffy Liturgical Dance with Miss Edna Duffy. She has a summer camp for young ladies. It’s almost like a finishing school that teaches them etiquette and performance in the arts and poetry and so forth. One more I’m excited about is Gem-N-Me. It’s a literary club over in Garden Valley and introduce the concept of words and books and storytelling to children in that community. Education, as you can see, is a theme that runs throughout.

STEPHANIE: How can someone help to support your mission and the work of those agencies?

CECIL: Well, there are several ways. Our website is unitedblackfund.org. We are basically a fund that acquires funds that we then redistribute to agencies like these on an annual basis. So you can give, but we also welcome volunteerism. In 2020 and 2019 we had probably over 200 volunteers throughout the year to help with various programs and we just welcome people to come out and support. We need help and expertise. Some of the agencies that we support are smaller. If you, for example, are a web designer, we need technical support for agencies who want to communicate now in this virtual environment. Those are just a few examples on how people can support and give back.

STEPHANIE: Typically we connect with you every year for a celebration on MLK Day. Lizzie, typically you are on-site here and some of our guests may recognize you. What has your experience been and what does the broad sense of the community support mean?

LIZZIE THOMPSON, DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR: I really enjoy participating in MLK Day every year. It’s very rewarding to me to connect with the guests. They have a sense of what philanthropy is about.  It’s always wonderful to see the parents allowing the kids to give their money and find out more about what the United Black Fund is doing. We are able to reach more communities, so I really enjoy being there. The staff is always wonderful and the guests really want to find out more about what we’re doing and how they can impact the community. They understand that we are not just funding programs, but we are also providing training that will help the programs that are assisting the community,

STEPHANIE: Thank you. We missed you this year.

CECIL: We missed you all.

STEPHANIE: This year has been interesting and I understand that the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland’s reach has broadened and you’re sharing your model with other communities. Can you give us some details?

CECIL: I’ll be happy to. We have done virtual training for as far away as Puerto Rico. There were people who were reeling still from Hurricane Maria from a couple years ago and then COVID hit when there was no infrastructure, so they reached out to Leadership Cleveland. Leadership Cleveland partnered with us. We converted training materials into Spanish we worked with FEMA and other agencies and, from a virtual setting, trained non-profit leaders on how to engage the government and other facilities to receive resources during this time. We’re really proud of that work. Additionally we’re working with a group out of Akron that just saw so many needs. It was just a band of community people that felt like they needed to do something more and there was no organization, so they took what they call “community circles” and they’re engaging people throughout the community to come up with the response to problems. We’re training them on how to identify best practices from those strategies and distribute funds equitably throughout the community in response to those needs. We’re really excited. We could have never done that before, which is a beautiful thing. Consistently now I meet with them for I think two to three hours every week in two different online sessions. We’re just trying to make lemonade out of lemons in this virtual environment and it is working.

STEPHANIE: We’ve all had to adapt this year. I know this partnership really has allowed us to then spotlight you as an important organization in the community. We look forward to more opportunities with helping you with education for youth and families in our community. We hope our guests will engage with the work that you’re doing and our friends will consider giving to or volunteering for your organization.

CECIL: I just want to reiterate what Lizzie shared. We’re so grateful to the Aquarium and to your leadership. Your staff is amazing…the Captain, well, we love the Captain, but like she said, the actual audience is what makes it special for us and then passing along the notion of philanthropy to the next generation. We’re really proud of our work and partnership and we hope that it can continue well into the future.

STEPHANIE: Thank you Cecil and Lizzie. We look forward to future collaborations!

If you’re interested in donating to the United Black Fund, click here or text UBF to 50155.

It’s #GivingTuesday

Founded in 2006 by Denise and Dr. Gary Riggs, Ohio-based Wild4Ever is an entirely volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the protection of animals in need and to the preservation of wild animals and habitats. While the wildlife conservation foundation has supported efforts with South American and Cambodian waterfowls, the Bornean Sun Bear and jaguars in Costa Rica and the Southwestern United States, Wild4Ever remains firmly committed to the protection and care of animals here in the Buckeye State. “You don’t have to go around the world to find charismatic endangered animals to help and you don’t have to sit back and wait for them to disappear,” says Dr. Riggs.

“You don’t have to go around the world to find charismatic endangered animals to help and you don’t have to sit back and wait for them to disappear,” says Dr. Riggs.

Dr. Riggs and the foundation have been known to donate more than $100,000 in in-kind services to the diagnosis and treatment of injured birds and other local wildlife. Wild4Ever is also a critical partner in SPOTD, a multi-organization project to study and grow spotted turtle populations here. Native to Northeast Ohio, the distinctive little turtle’s numbers are diminishing due to habitat loss, predation, declining water quality, poaching and other factors. “Our group has been able to increase the threatened population in our study area and we finished a multi-year genetic study that will aid in future planning,” says Riggs.

The Splash Fund of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium also has played a significant role in the SPOTD headstarting and habitat project. Not only has that involvement allowed for a number of spotted turtle hatchlings to be reared under the watchful eyes of a trained animal care team to a size more advantageous for their survival, but it has enabled interns to microchip and monitor spotted turtles in the wild post-release. “Underscoring the importance of the natural world and providing ways our community can make a positive impact on it is at the heart of the Splash Fund,” says Stephanie White.

The small nonprofit is dedicated to promoting and encouraging passion about aquatic life and participation in the conservation of fresh and saltwater habitats through sustainable human practices. Every summer the Splash Fund—in partnership with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Cleveland Metroparks and Drink Local. Drink Tap.—invites the community to participate in a series of Adopt-A-Beach Cleanups. Over the years, its more than 40 events have attracted 1,491 volunteers who collected nearly 3,532 pounds of trash and recyclables. The Splash Fund also provides schools with demonstrated need access to life science-based education programs.

This has been a difficult year, and we fully realize that not everyone is in a position to give. But if you are and you’re passionate about wildlife education and conservation, we hope you’ll consider a #GivingTuesday donation to the Wild4Ever Foundation or the Splash Fund.

If you donate $10 or more to Wild4Ever Foundation or the Splash Fund between now and December 6, we’ll give you access to a virtual Zoom turtle program hosted by Greater Cleveland Aquarium on Tuesday December 22 at 6pm.**A Zoom link will be emailed to you closer to the program.

Author: Samantha F.

Ways You Can Support Local Business Today

It is a decidedly difficult time. COVID-19 is impacting everything in our orbit—hospitality and tourism, retail, education, law enforcement, politics, sports, the arts, nonprofits, healthcare . . . the list goes on. The way our world has changed is particularly striking today—St. Paddy’s Day. This is a time when Clevelanders would be filling the streets and generating income for the bars, bakeries, breweries and musicians. Today some of us will maybe get a Reuben to-go and log-on to watch local rockers giving voice to the holiday with a 1pm livestream concert for the community.  

We wrote this post this morning and by the time it’s shared online we suspect things will have changed even more—that’s how quickly things are moving. For now, we’d like to share some of the ways we can still support struggling local businesses who have supported Aquarium events over the years. If we missed someone, add a comment or email us. We’ll add it here.

Breweries 

Bookhouse Brewing – Our neighbors up the hill just announced they were going to try a home beer and waffle delivery. Order some and follow them on Facebook

Double Wing Brewing – With the mandatory closure of on-site consumption, Debonne said it is offering carryout sales of both Double Wing Beer and Debonné wine, but you must call ahead. They’ll also deliver, but there are some restrictions. Check out the post on social.   

Great Lakes Brewing Company – They’re continuing to brew, but the brewpub is closed. Their Facebook says “We’ve got plans in the works to bring the fresh, comforting tastes of our pub to your home. Stay tuned [for info on] our upcoming to-go food and beer offerings, including festive holiday fare.” 

Saucy Brew Works – The Hingetown fixture is shifting its “focus solely to PICKUP and DELIVERY options for our full menu, crowlers and growlers of beer on tap (new Saucy growlers only)” and cans.  They’ve also changed their hours in the short-term. Find out the latest here

Terrestrial Brewing Company – Terrestrial has been an amazing partner to the Aquarium’s Splash Fund, raising money for efforts to save spotted turtles in Northeast Ohio. The Battery Park Brewer says, “We are only offering to-go sales on all beers and food with limited hours. We will be opening Tuesday thru Friday (4-8 PM) and Saturday and Sunday (12-8 PM). At these times, guests may purchase any to-go beers (crowlers and growlers), merchandise, gift cards, as well as to-go La Plaza Taqueria & Catering food. We are currently working on canning operations as well. Expect your favorite Terrestrial beers in six-packs in the near future.”

Twin Oast Brewing – The Catawba Island brewer is encouraging those who’d like to support them to buy a gift card saying, “This is an easy way that you can continue to support our staff and our business during the mandatory closure. As a small token of our appreciation, we’ll be adding on to the value of your gift card.”

Voodoo Brewery Cleveland – One of the newest additions to the Cleveland (Heights) beer scene will offer carry out beer, cider and food. Check out their Facebook for more. 

Chocolates, Sweets & Snacks 

The Bom – With online s’more and truffle-making parties, The Bom is a great alternative during the era of social distancing. Check them out here

Fear’s Confections – Carry out chocolate in Lakewood. You know you want to. It’s the opposite of stressful. Here’s the info

Jack Frost Donuts – Some of Northeast Ohio’s most fanciful (and deelish) donuts are now available curbside for those with the foresight to pre-order. Details here.  

Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates – This Cleveland Heights chocolatier invites you to support a local business and “grab ‘n’ go” some sweet deliciousness. 

Sweet Bean – Sweet been has been making lemon out of lemonade (well, more like chocolate out of cocoa beens) and heading to online for virtual markets. Find out how to shop one of them here.  

Sweet Designs Chocolatier – Stop in, pick up and head out. This Lakewood business has sanitizing and public safety in mind and terrific chocolates in its cases. 

Restaurants 

Astoria Café & Market – Astoria will be open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-9pm for carry out and curbside to-go and they’re offering 10% off every purchase excluding alcohol. The market will be open and they have to-go beer and wine.

The Flat Iron – Our neighbors across the bridge are offering carry out Monday through Saturday 11am- 8pm. Dall 216.696,6968 to place an order. Take-out bottled beer and wine are also available. This is a new game and The Flat Iron is taking things day by day, so follow them here for updates. 

Hatfields Goode Grub – The West Park staple is offering curbside pickup and free local delivery of their full menu including beer and wine from 11am – 8pm. Online ordering is suggested.  

Melt Bar & Grilled – The full Melt Bar and Grilled menu is now available for take-out and delivery with amended hours. Enjoy the ooey-gooey, family-friendly cheesy goodness at home. 

Prosperity Social Club – Prosperity is regrouping with carryout specials and beer and wine to-go.  Check out the eclectic Tremont pub’s quintessentially Cleveland comfort food here

Rascal House – All Rascal House locations are open for pickup, takeout and delivery only – so take that pie home with your bad self. 

Wineries 

CLE Urban Winery – You can still get your favorites from the Cleveland Heights’ winery online or at Heinen’s. 

Debonne Vineyards – The 175-acre vineyard in Madison says it is offering 20% off all carry-out wine & beer or 50% off shipping until Easter.

Grand River Cellars – They are currently open 12-6pm daily and offering 20% post off all carryout wine sales

High & Low Winery – Zoom zoom zoom, High & Low Winery is delivering wine to your living room! $3.95 flat fee, no minimum, no venturing out. More here.   

Raven’s Glenn Winery – Located in West Lafayette, they have pickup available and will deliver orders over $40 within local corporation limits.  

Other 

K-9 Cleveland – In an effort to support the human healthcare team during the COVID-19 pandemic, the doggy daycare/groomer/trainer is offering a 50% discount on daycare & boarding through the end of April to those working in local hospitals.

Lolly the Trolley – They are not offering their super informative public tours for the remainder of March. Be sure to take a sightseeing tour when they start back up again. 

Nautica Queen – The sightseeing cruise was just gearing up for the summer season. Look for announcements and book your afternoon or evening on the Cuyahoga River. 

Visible Voice Books – The indie Tremont bookshop will be closed for browsing and events until this all blows over, but its entire inventory IS available online. They’ll also be taking orders via at info@visiblevoicebooks.com. Payment options available thru PayPal and Venmo and they’ll be offering free domestic USPS shipping and arranging curbside book pickup while the store is closed.

– Greater Cleveland Aquarium Team

5 Reasons to Check Out Hauntaquarium

Looking for something to do this Halloween? Here are 5 reasons your family will enjoy Captain NEO’s Hauntaquarium at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium October 18, 19, 25, 26 or 27* from 6 – 9pm.

RAIN, SHINE OR SNOW IT’S A GO Our pirate party activities—from a DJ dance party to face painting—are indoors.

FUN, NOT SCARY There are pirates, pumpkins and magic, but nothing gets too spooky. Parents attending with kids in tow are encouraged to come in costume; as long as it is child-friendly and does not include a mask.

BUDGET-CONSCIOUS PRICING Due to the generosity of sponsors like the Cleveland Monsters, Integrity Radio and K9 Cleveland, the cost to attend Captain NEO’s Hauntaquarium is less than daytime admission—$12 ($10 for Passholders).  If you purchase your ticket in advance and show it at the gate to the lot, parking is also included.

MORE THAN TREATS Captain NEO’s Hauntaquarium is more than a treat trail with stickers, candies and temporary tattoos. The evening also includes animal encounters, mini science experiments, costumed SCUBA divers and activities to spur the imagination of budding young biologists.

FEEL-GOOD FUN We hope you’ll enjoy the evening and take away a newfound appreciation for how flashlight fish get their special glow, where piranhas earned their fearsome reputations or why poison dart frogs are such brilliant colors. We are excited for any opportunity to share our passion for aquatic life and the environment with curious learners of all ages.

Interested? Space is limited. I suggest getting your tickets in advance to make sure you get the night of your choice AND free parking. (*Note: October 27 is being held in partnership with Autism Speaks Northeast Ohio and is for families who could benefit from a reduction of stimuli.) You can purchase tickets here.

  • Neda Spears

A River Reborn

The Cuyahoga River famously caught fire on June 22, 1969, inspiring several songs and sullying Cleveland’s reputation for generations. Ultimately, though, the incident sparked conservation efforts and led to the Clean Water Act. Today, the water flowing by the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is home to more than 60 species of fish along with rowing crews, paddleboarders, boaters and others enjoying the river’s scenic beauty.  That’s the story we want to tell as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the last time the river burned; not the burning but the inspiration and restoration.

Northeast Ohio is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River’s last fire as to remind us of the importance of our natural resources and as an opportunity reflect on how far Northeast Ohio and the nation have come in cleaning up our waterways.  So far this year, the Aquarium has participated in the River Sweep cleanup, made presentations to more than 30 groups on the history of the Cuyahoga River and conducted a river walking tour that ended with a citizen science water quality test.

On the actual anniversary, we have our grand finale commemoration event. We’re inviting the community to a Cuyahoga50 #RiverReborn Family Celebration filled with feel-good music and hands-on kids’ activities. Join the Cleveland History Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Creative Concepts in Music’s Sheela Das, Eriesponsible, Holden Forest & Gardens, International Women’s Air & Space Museum, musician Brent Kirby, National First Ladies’ Library, Nautica Queen, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) and Sierra Club for an afternoon of make-and-take crafts, games and informational displays focused on being good stewards of our natural resources. All activities are included with Aquarium admission.

Whether it’s making recycled water bottle fish, ship or plane, taking a narrated walk along the Cuyahoga or guessing how long it takes trash to break down, this rain-or-shine afternoon event is full of fun, hands-on activities and organizations that will help future generations gain a better understanding of their relation to and impact on natural resources.

Many thanks to NEORSD for its partnership and support of these initiatives.

(If you’re able to stick around on the West Bank of the Flats, there’s a Farmer’s Market beginning at 4pm steps away at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica AND an evening Cuyahoga River Boat Parade that day too!)

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Make a Difference: 2019 Beach Clean-ups

For more than 25 years, the Alliance for the Great Lakes has hosted Adopt-a-Beach events all over the Great Lakes to keep the shorelines healthy, safe and beautiful. In 2018 alone, more than 14,000 volunteers picked up 35,606 pounds of litter over the course of 900 cleanups.

The Splash Fund (a non-profit affiliate of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium) has hosted beach clean-ups in Cleveland since we opened seven years ago. This year, our beach cleanups are scheduled:

5/18 – 10am-12pm Perkins Beach (Edgewater) in partnership with Drink Local. Drink Tap.

6/15 – 10am-12pm Edgewater (main beach)

7/20 – 10am-12pm Edgewater (main beach)

8/17 – 10am-12pm Edgewater (main beach)

9/28 – 10am-12pm Perkins Beach (Edgewater) in partnership with Drink Local. Drink Tap.

The Cleveland Metroparks team does a terrific job of keeping big waste items off the beach, so what exactly gets picked up during these volunteer events? We mostly collect small plastic items including cigarette butts, water bottles, food containers, straws and cigar tips. Even though we are picking up primarily small pieces of plastic, we still remove around 100 pounds of garbage each of the mornings. We couldn’t do it without the help of hundreds of volunteers each summer. We show our gratitude for this effort by offering each volunteer one free post-event ticket to visit the Aquarium.

The easiest way to sign up for one of our beach clean-ups is to register here. It’s easy and fun and make a big difference. We hope to see you at the beach this summer!

10 Holiday Things to do with your Family in Northeast Ohio

The holiday season is officially here! From cookie baking to movie marathons and more, it’s a very exciting time of the year and a great time to spend with loved ones. This winter, don’t miss out on the opportunity to start a new family tradition, continue an old one or treat your family to a festive surprise. Here are 10 family-friendly seasonal adventures happening in your own backyard!

Glow  

Glow is an indoor showcase of decorated trees, gingerbread houses and other beloved holiday traditions. Cleveland Botanical Garden is located at 11030 East Boulevard in Cleveland’s University Circle.

Castle Noel

You can visit Castle Noel any time because this Christmas attraction filled with Christmas movie costumes and props, vintage toys, store holiday window displays and even indoor snow is open year-round. Castle Noel is located at 260 South Court Street in downtown Medina.

Photo by: Nevit Dilmen 

Ice Skating Outdoors

Lace up your skates and bundle up for the great outdoors! The Ice Rink at Wade Oval is located at 10820 East Boulevard in Cleveland’s University Circle.

Tobogganing   

Looking for an “outdoorsy” adventure?  The Cleveland Metroparks 700-foot twin toboggan chutes located at the Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation (16200 Valley Parkway, Strongsville, Ohio) are open throughout the winter.

Kringle’s Inventionasium

This inventive and interactive theatrical experience is your opportunity to help Mr. Kringle and his team prepare for the holidays. Kringle’s Inventionasium Experience is located in downtown Cleveland’s Tower City Center.

Scuba Claus & the Seas’N of Play at Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Expend your seasonal spirit while completing activities about movement and learn about some pretty amazing animal traits along the way. On Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays (1 – 2pm) you can snap a selfie with Scuba Claus underwater in a 230,000-gallon shark exhibit while he visits the sandtigers, stingrays, eels, pufferfish (and guests!) on his nice list.  An activity book, temporary tattoo, scavenger hunt and Scuba Claus visit is included with general Aquarium admission during the Seas’N of Play. The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is located on the West Bank of the Flats in downtown Cleveland at 2000 Sycamore Street, Cleveland, Ohio.

Magic of Lights

Enjoy magical lights in a mile-long display that includes Candy Cane Lane, Reindeer Crossing, the Enchanting Tunnel of Lights and more. The Magic of Lights is in a new location this year at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, 19201 E. Bagley Road, Middleburg Heights, Ohio.

A Christmas Story House

Many know and love A Christmas Story and consider watching the coming-of-age movie an annual holiday tradition. Fans can make a pilgrimmage to the A Christmas Story House and Museum where the movie was filmed. This pop culture destination open year-round is very near the Aquarium (so make it a two-fer) at 3159 W. 11th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.

A Classic Christmas Play at Playhouse Square

Playhouse Square has performances of A Christmas Story and A Christmas Carol happening through December 23. Cleveland’s theatre district (festooned with a massive outdoor chandelier) is located at 1501 Euclid Avenue.

Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concert  

Join the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus for a holiday concert, perfect for families. The holiday concerts include guest choruses and sing-alongs. Severance Hall is located at 11001 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio.

Photo by: Erik Drost

Happy holidays!

– Tori Pishkula