By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency
Let’s hear it for Cinderella stories.
No, not the mistreated young girl who is whisked away by her prince to live happily ever after, but the Chicago Cubs, historically, baseball’s Cinderella team.
The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. They haven’t made it to the World Series since 1945. As anyone who follows baseball knows this year’s winningest team in baseball — they’ve won 110 games, culminating in the League Championship — is playing the Cleveland Indians, whose last trip to the Series was in 1997. They lost. The Indians haven’t won the World Series since 1948.
Whatever happens, “Just getting to the World Series for the Cubs is a big win,” said my son, Matt Yemma, a devoted Cubs fan, though like many other fans, he doesn’t live in Chicago anymore. Some of his fondest childhood memories were of going to Wrigley Field and watching the Cubs play in spring training in Arizona. This summer, he convinced his dad to spend a “guy’s weekend,” at their favorite ballpark.
Of course, few of us — even diehard Cubs or Indian fans — are going to make it to a World Series game, not with tickets reportedly going for thousands of dollars each, but there’s something to be said for visiting a city when positive energy is so high. The iconic lion statues in front of the Chicago Art Institute are decked out in blue Cubs hats; Cleveland’s Terminal Tower was lit up white and red, the Indian’s team colors.
There’s also a positive lesson for kids. Look at the Cubs and their fans, countless parents are saying; they’ve never given up. You can’t quit when the going gets hard. Look at the Indians and all their fans standing by them. “I’ve been a fan since I was seven,” one Chicago teen said when I was interviewing kids for my Kid’s Guide to Chicago. “I know they’ll win the World Series soon!” And that was before they were the winningest team in baseball.
Sure it’s cold in the Midwest in the winter, but there are so many terrific things to see indoors in these Midwest cities, as well as to celebrate the holidays. In Chicago, for example, there’s Caroling at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park from Thanksgiving weekend until just before Christmas. Affectionately called “The Bean,” the giant sculpture, whose shape resembles a kidney bean, is a favorite spot for selfies because the skyline is reflected in the sculpture. Go ice-skating in the park while you’re there. Chicagoans also make it a tradition to head to ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo for the free celebration, complete with the chance to watch professional ice carvers at work.
In Cleveland, Glow at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, one of the city’s most beloved holiday celebrations, draws tourists and locals alike. Come decorate your own gingerbread house! A Christmas Story House is open for all the fans of the classic Hollywood movie. This was the actual house used in the movie and it’s packed full of memorabilia — the leg lamp, Ralphie’s BB gun.
Mix with the locals at holiday festivals and markets in the neighborhoods, perhaps most famously these days in Chicago’s Wrigleyville, home to Wrigley Field, just one of the city’s 70-plus neighborhoods, each with its own identity and ethnic heritage. Cleveland touts its neighborhoods too, including Ohio City Market District, where the West Side Market has been in business for more than 100 years and you can sample ethnic eats from falafel to crepes. Of course, you can cheer on another pro team in the winter in either city, including Cleveland’s championship Cavaliers.
And even if you’ve been to the top attractions before, even many times, there’s plenty new to see this season:
Museum of Science and Industry’s international Above and Beyond exhibit celebrates the power of innovation through a 5,000-square-foot traveling aerospace exhibition complete with simulations, interactive design challenges, even the chance to fly your own supersonic jet or pilot a drone into a hurricane. Your LEGO lovers won’t want to miss the Brick by Brick exhibit with giant LEGO structures and building challenges.
DuSable Museum of African American History’s “Freedom, Resistance, and the Journey Toward Equality” is dedicated to the lives given in the name of freedom and equality and addresses key periods throughout African-American history. Also don’t miss the Masterworks Collection of paintings from the late 1800s to the 1950s done by black artists.
The Field Museum’s newest exhibit Tattoo tells the story of tattooing, including historical artifacts and intricate contemporary designs tattooed onto silicone models of the human body. Explore tattooing across different cultures — how methods have changed — and watch tattoo artists at work.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland where the current exhibit “Louder Than Words, Power and Politics” explores the power of rock music to change attitudes about weighty topics like patriotism, peace, equality and freedom, just one of more than 50 exhibits from Michael Jackson’s sparkly glove to scribbled notes that became classic songs, even Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s new Rosebrough Tiger Passage gives the zoo’s two Siberian tigers four different interconnected habitat areas in which to roam, including trails that pass right over the heads of visitors.
Cleveland History Center’s timely “Power and Politics Exhibition,” which runs through January 2017, highlights the significance of Cleveland and northeast Ohio in presidential politics.
So, play ball!
© 2016 EILEEN OGINTZ
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.