Cleveland connections

What
once was known solely as an industrial city on the banks of Lake Erie
has transformed itself into a cultural hub with a lively downtown dining
and entertainment scene, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and
three professional sports teams all within the central business
district.

Outside of
downtown, several districts such as Ohio City are bustling with shops,
eateries and breweries to keep Clevelanders cheery on bitter-cold winter
nights. Spend a few days there and you just might start to think Carey
was onto something.

GETTING THERE

As
Oklahoma City has expanded its nonstop flight options, more cities have
come within a single flight. On Feb. 14, United Airlines added a daily
flight between OKC and Cleveland.

Travelers
are using the flight for business and pleasure. Martha Burke, a
Stillwater native who lives in Cleveland, couldn’t be happier. She
journeys home every six to eight weeks to see her parents and friends,
but always had to deal with the hassles of multiple flights.

“Before
this new direct flight was offered, my travel route included at least
one layover before landing in Oklahoma City, which only increased my
total travel time and cut into the time I could spend with my parents
and friends,” she says. “It would take me nearly a full day to travel
between Cleveland and Oklahoma City, and there was always anxiety over
making the connection. Now, I can hop on a plane and land in Oklahoma
City three hours later.”

A CHRISTMAS STORY

Keep reading if your Christmas just isn’t the same without an “official
Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot range, model air rifle,” the Old
Man and his leg lamp, and the notorious Black Bart. Cleveland is home to
the house from 1983’s A Christmas Story. Brian Jones purchased
it on eBay in 2004 and spent the next two years restoring the home to
how it appeared in the movie. It opened in November 2006.

For
fans of the film, there’s no mistaking the house at 3159 W. 11th. It’s a
slender, two-story, mustard-yellow residence with green trim and the
famous sexy leg lamp – the Old Man’s “major award” – serves as a beacon
in the front window to welcome visitors. Inside, the crate with a leg as
seen upon delivery sits in the entryway.

Angela
Dickerson, chief of operations, says many of the props inside – from
the lamp to Ralphie’s BB gun – are replicas. The furniture has been
matched as closely as possible to the film, but the living room couches
do stand on the actual rug from the movie.

On average, she says about 30,000 people tour the house each year.

“It has turned into way more than anyone expected,” she says.

But please, if you decide to act out a scene and take a crack with Ralphie’s BB gun, do be careful not to shoot your eye out.

ROCK ON

For
all heads – Dead and otherwise – Cleveland is home to The Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame and Museum. The seven-level museum chronicles rock ’n’
roll from its roots in Southern blues and gospel through the hottest
acts of the last 60 years.

Stop
in and say hello to fellow Oklahomans Charlie Christian and Woody
Guthrie, who are featured as early influences. Exhibits include
instruments and eyeglasses that belonged to Roy Orbison and John Lennon,
clothing that belonged to everyone from Lead Belly to Elvis, and cars
from some of rock’s most influential musicians, including Janis Joplin’s
Porsche with a psychedelic paint job.

Some
might be more excited than others at things such as Stevie Nicks’ black
dress she wore on the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album, Rumours, and
the first two typewritten pages of Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and
Loathing in Las Vegas,” which are in an exhibit highlighting Rolling Stone magazine. Exhibits dedicated to bands like The Who have plenty in the way of guitars and clothing from throughout their career – even Keith Moon’s smoking jacket.

To
really tour the museum, set aside three to four hours. The Beatles
exhibit alone is worth the price of admission, $22. It features a wall
of Fab Four mementos from John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band uniform to handwritten lyrics for Beatles classics and the organ played on “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Recent inductees are featured in a special hall, with various gear and mementos on display and an autograph wall.

WINE AND GOLD

Don your wine and gold, the official colors of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and snag a ticket to see the NBA at the Quicken Loans Arena, known to locals as The Q.

Since
LeBron James left, the team hasn’t quite been the same, but all-star
Kyrie Irving and company keep things lively. And since it is unlikely
the Cavs will face the Thunder in the postseason, go ahead and root for
the hometown boys.

At
the game, there was nary a James jersey nor many fans with love for
their former king. Attendees and folks around town stated they rooted
for the Thunder and against James and the Miami Heat in last year’s
finals.

Zach Steurer,
from Akron, wore a Cavaliers T-shirt and said he was a lifelong fan of
the team. But he made no secret of cheering on the Thunder last year in
the finals.

“I don’t like LeBron anymore,” he says.

His
friend and fellow Akron resident Brett Mudd was decked out in a Cavs
jacket and headband, but did not harbor the same ill will toward James.
He says after James remained in Cleveland for seven years with no
championship ring, he didn’t like the way he left, but he understood
why.

“He did it the
wrong way, but I don’t feel like he made the wrong decision,” he says.
“It’s a business, and he wanted to get a championship ring.”

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