Distinctly Downtown: Rubber City Rollergirls

Real Women – Pro Akron – Real Athletes

The Rubber City Rollergirls roller derby team has been “jamming” out in Akron for the past seven years. Although the non-profit organization is technically considered amateur, their team is anything but. The Rubber City Rollergirls team is made up of 23 passionate women who share a common enthusiasm for the aggressive sport of roller derby.Image

“Once you get into derby, you’re in it for life” says Rubber City Rollergirl Melissa Longfellow, also known on the team as Mae B. Hazardous. Melissa first fell in love with roller derby when she visited the John S. Knight Center on a cold winter afternoon. After witnessing a defeat against “that state up north” she immediately e-mailed the team in hopes for an audition. She has since been a crucial part of the “big crazy derby family” for five years.

Melissa is an avid fan of the professionalism of the Rubber City Rollergirls. She appreciates that the women of the team are “real professional athletic competitors” despite the outdated belief that roller derbies are simply choreographed performances. Melissa believes that there is a lot more to the sport than girl power and claims “we are real athletes, we really get hurt and we really give derby our all. We are a team that is crazy involved with the city of Akron and crazy involved with our fans.”


As a non-profit organization, the Rubber City Rollergirls frequently dedicate their free time to local philanthropies throughout Akron. The team even hosts their own annual charity event, Skate For Kids, where they raise money to allow underprivileged children in Akron to skate with their families (and the team) for free.

The typical roller derby season in Akron consists of five bouts between January and May. Derbies are family friendly and host anywhere between 800 and 1,000 dedicated fans per bout. The next upcoming bout will be held at the John S. Knight Center on May 10 where fans can also enjoy Oddmall, the “most unusual art, craft, and culture show” in Northeast Ohio. Come explore your new favorite sport! As Mae B. Hazardous says, “one game and you’ll be hooked.”

By: Bre Koch
DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Magically modern Snow White at EJ Thomas Hall

snow whiteWho is the fairest in the land? Neos Dance Theatre and The University of Akron are partnering to present a magically modern version of Snow White and the Magic Mirror: A Grimm Tale on Saturday, April 19.

Featuring live music, dramatic multimedia and inspired costumes, performances of Snow White are at 2 and 8 p.m. at UA’s EJ Thomas Hall, 198 Hill St. Tickets range from $13-$28.  They are available at the door as long as seats remain, and also in advance at 330-972-7570, the Thomas Hall Ticket Office, and www.ticketmaster.com. To provide an intimate viewing experience for the audience, seats will only be sold in the orchestra section of the hall.

Robert Wesner, the artistic director and co-founder of Neos Dance Theatre, choreographed this full-length work for Neos and a cast of 36 students from The University of Akron’s Dance Program and Dance Institute.  Appealing to all ages, the production also features musicians from the UA School of Music and throughout the area.

Stow native and Neos dancer Jennifer Safonovs is Snow White. Ashland resident Brooke Wesner, co-founder of Neos, is the Wicked Stepmother. Ethan Michael Lee of North Canton is dancing the role of the Huntsman and Alec Guthrie of Palo Alto, California, has the role of Snow White’s Love. Neos dancers Erin Buck, Katie Edmonds, Mary-Elizabeth Fenn, Juliana Freude, Theresa Holland, and Anna Trumbo are cast as the Woodland Fairies. The Mirror design and multi-media effects are by Andy Gardner and Lindsay Mulhollen.

Snow White and the Magic Mirror, A Grimm Tale is presented with support from Dominion, Hire Family Foundation, The Findlay Arts Partnership, the UA School of Music’s Kulas Concert Series, UA’s EJ Thomas Hall, and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fund for Dance in Summit County, a fund of Akron Community Foundation.

Neos Dance Theatre is a company of young artists who are classically trained in ballet and passionate about new and contemporary dance.  Its mission is to develop and serve audiences in Northern Ohio and become an ambassador of dance for the region and to a global dance community.

The Dance Program at The University of Akron prepares students for performing and teaching careers and graduate studies through traditional technical training imbedded within academic programs leading to B.F.A., B.A. and B.A. Dance Education degrees. The University of Akron is an institutionally accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Dance.

The University of Akron’s Dance Institute is a pre-professional program for children age 7 through high school. Founded in 1967, Dance Institute offers ballet-based training and prepares students for careers in dance performance and dance education, plus introductory dance classes for children ages 3-7 and recreational dance and conditioning classes for adults, teens, and children ages 7-12.

Distinctly Downtown: Spirits of the Civic – A Pirate’s Adventure

Ready to enjoy a fun themed party featuring Rum and Whiskey tastings, with entertainment from the Parrots of the Caribbean – The Ultimate Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band — and “spirits” that will show you a hauntingly good time?

ImageThe Akron Civic Theatre presents a themed Spirits of the Civic – A Pirate’s Adventure. The Civic will be transformed into a tropical paradise during the annual gala, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 12.

The night begins for guests as they enter into the mystical high seas on the Civic’s Mezzanine level, where they will enjoy hearty appetizers and dance the jig while listening to The University of Akron Steel Drum Band. The night continues to unfold with a special rum bar and whiskey tastings. Guests must be careful not to be lured away by the beauty of a mysterious mermaid waiting to captivate susceptible fellows. The scandalous pirate Davey Jones will be there to bedevil and amuse – but don’t cross him and end up in his locker!

Guests then enjoy the music of Mo’ Mojo followed by The Parrots of the Caribbean on stage, all from their private “skybox” view in the balcony. A fun live auction will ensue. Desserts and coffee will round out the night.

Fifth Third Bank returns as this year’s presenting sponsor. Sponsors at the Admirals of the Black level are Akron Civic Theatre Women’s Guild, Hahn Loeser + Parks LLP and Rapid Restoration Response. At the Swashbucklers level are Akron General and Roetzel and Andress; at the Me Hearties level Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations; at the Scallywags level The Berroteran Group and Markham Machine Co. Inc.; and at the Maties level Levin Swedler Crum, Main Street Gourmet, MS Consultants and NEO Administration.

Ticket price is $150. Ticket includes valet parking, off Bowery St. You must be 21 to enter. Tickets are available by calling the Akron Civic Theatre at (330) 535-3179 or online at www.spiritsofthecivic.com.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Akron Civic Theatre. 

Guests are encouraged to come dressed for the occasion. Mr. Fun’s Costumes and Magic Emporium is giving a 10% discount on costume rentals or product purchased for this event if mentioned at the time of purchase.

The full Akron Civic Theatre schedule is available at www.akroncivic.com.  Additional events will be added throughout the season.  Tickets and information are available in person at The Civic Box Office or by calling 330.253.2488.

Distinctly Downtown: Akron Glass Works

ImageWith the cold weather seeming to never end, Akron Glass Works invites all to join them for demos, workshops and shopping in their bright and warm studio. The studio makes it easy to forget about the winter blues with the combinations of beautiful handmade glass and live plants. Jack Baker, owner of Akron Glass Works and one of the artists, was inspired by a trip he took with the Akron Art Museum to Seattle. He took glassblowing classes in Kent, but soon decided he needed to open his own studio if he wanted to succeed as a glassblower. In 2006, Jack made the decision to expand his Architectural Greenery space to make room for a glassblowing studio. He combined his two passions into a creative and unique space that has a little something for everyone.

Each weekend the studio offers classes where community members can come and try glass blowing for themselves. Class sizes are limited to five people per class, but there are two sessions per weekend. “A lot of people end up loving the class and come back. They bring their friends back too, which helps the word get out about our studio,” said Sandy Holata, a glass fuse artist at the studio.  In February, the workshops made paperweight hearts to go along with the Valentine’s Day theme of the month. Glass Fusing classes are also offered in the evenings. The days vary between Wednesdays and Fridays depending on scheduling. This past month the glass fusing class had a date night where participants sampled wine and cheese while working on their homemade glass valentines. Future workshops will be making birds for the springtime and flowers for Mother’s Day. Image

The gift shop has a combination of all the glasswork that is created in the studio. The pieces make unique and beautiful gifts for the holidays or any special occasion. “People really appreciate buying unique and locally handmade gifts for the holidays,” said Sandy.

The studio is expanding not in size of space, but in knowledge and local support. This past year there were about 600 community members who participated in the weekend glassblowing workshops and 100 who took part in the glass fusing work shops. There are community members who come into the studio to watch a demo and stay until the piece is complete and then end up wanting to buy it from the artist. “It’s unique when someone can say they watched an art piece being made and then be able to purchase it. It is good for our artists and cool for the buyer to have such an experience,” said Sandy.

ImageThe artists love being in the Northside. They are close to the Akron Art Museum and other galleries as well. They often times see people who are waiting in line at Luigi’s and stop in saying they never knew the studio existed. The artists are also very excited about the opening of Jilly’s Music Room. Now that the studio is open on Saturday evenings again they are hoping the crowd of Jilly’s will bring more people into the studio as well.

Akron Glass Works is a great place to explore any day of the week. Whether you would like to try glass blowing or fusing for yourself or you just want to check out the gift shop, it is not a place to miss. The art will blow you away with its details and time it took to create such unique pieces.

By: Madeline Hartman
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: Akron Home & Flower Show

ImageIt may be hard to believe, but the Akron HBA Home and Flower Show, presented by Window Pro, the Marvin Experts, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. For 20 straight years the greater Akron area has enjoyed its own unique home and flower show. The 2014 event is Friday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, March 2 at the John S. Knight Center in Downtown Akron. Show hours are 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $8 and discounted tickets are available at AkronHomeandFlowerShow.com.

The show contains feature gardens sponsored by MJH Contractors, outdoor living exhibits, HFS gardenhome decorating, remodeling products, services and much more. This year the Professional Remodelers Council will produce a Home for Life Display. This display will show a before and after bathroom make over. Both are done using the same amount of floor space.

In addition, the show will feature an Eco Living display with everything from baby chicks that grow up to be egg laying hens, to vertical vegetable gardens and solar panels to generate your own electricity. Learn about living more sustainably through displays on natural foods, recycling and storm water and soil erosion. The entire Eco Living area is sponsored by Wolff Brothers Supply and SolarMax.

ImageOne national celebrity apparing is John Gidding of HGTV’s popular Curb Appeal show. John is an accomplished designer that will have tips on how to turn your dull home into a show place. Also visiting the show on Saturday is Channel 3’s meteorologist, Betsy King, who will be available to chat and sign autographs.

In addition, Dr. Lori, an appraiser on the popular show Auction Kings, will also appear. Dr. Lori is the only celebrity ever brought back two years in a row. Bring antiques, art work and other collectibles and she will appraise it on the show’s Kemppel Homes main stage.

Once again, the HBA will team up with WAKR and WONE to produce their annual prize contest. This year’s prizes are components that make up a true man’s cave. Items such as furnishings, large screen TV, a catered party and a gaming table are all part of the package. The total value is over $15,000. Listeners can qualify on air.

This year’s show will also feature Nick’s Grotto sponsored by SileStone distributed by ILSD. The grotto will be done by Nick’s Landscaping and counter tops will be Silestone. The grotto contains a beer and wine bar featuring beers by Thirsty Dog Brewery and Wines provided by the Winery at Wolf Creek.

With over 200 displays there is plenty to see. It is a pleasant way to spend a cold afternoon or evening and be reminded by the sights, sound and smells that spring is right around the corner. Come to the Akron Home and Flower Show and get inspired once again.


Distinctly Downtown: Akron RubberDucks

Akron RubberDucks Prepare for the 2014 Season

With the official pitchers and catchers report only 10 days away, the front office at Canal Park is excited to talk baseball again (as if they ever stopped!) Staff of the Akron RubberDucks, formerly the Akron Aeros, has high expectations for the upcoming 2014 season. Although Owner Ken Babby received negative feedback from fans initially, the transformation to the RubberDucks has been nothing but beneficial to the club. Adam Liberman, Director of Public and Media Relations, explains the reasoning behind the unique name; Image“We wanted to attract a newer generation of people, while honoring the history of the city of Akron.” He mentions how Akron is known nationally for their contributions to the rubber industry and finds it important to associate this rich past with the modern team.

This name change is not the only new thing to expect this season! Construction of “The Game Grill + Bar” has already begun above right field in the ballpark. Other attractions to anticipate include the demolition of the bleachers in right field to be replaced with an adult Tiki Bar, and the addition of a new picnic area near left field. From $2 hotdogs at every home game, to movie nights and family FUNdays; from $1 draught beer and soda thirsty Thursdays, to midget wrestling nights, fans are guaranteed entertainment regardless of the product on the field (although we predict satisfaction from the RubberDucks as well.)Image

Liberman looks forward to being surrounded by screaming fans on opening day, where he will watch the players run onto the field in their brand new Akron RubberDucks jerseys; an indication that baseball season is finally in full “swing” again. Come on down and bring the whole gang to Canal Park on April 10 to join Liberman and the rest of the Akron RubberDucks for an entire season of family affordable fun. Let’s go “QuAkron!”

By: Bre Koch, DAP Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Akron Children’s Hospital radiothon

Calling all Change Bandits – a message from Akron Children’s Hospital

The 15th annual “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Radiothon presented by 98.1 WKDD will be held Feb. 13-15, 2014. For the past 14 years, Radiothon has been an amazing success, touching the hearts of tens of thousands of listeners throughout northeast Ohio and raising nearly $8.3 million to benefit the sick and injured children at Akron Children’s Hospital. $2.2 million has been raised throughout the past 14 years by amazing Change Bandits. That’s a lot of loose change! 

Change Bandits “rob” their friends, family and co-workers of spare change, with all proceeds benefiting the kids in care of Akron Children’s Hospital. In 2013, Change Bandits raised more than $152,000 in change – contributing to the grand total of $664,000.

This is your opportunity to join the Change Bandit campaign for the 2014 “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Radiothon. The official Change Bandit promotion started on 98.1 WKDD in early January, but you can get a head start on your campaign right now. You can register online by visiting www.akronchildrens.org/changebandit. Your kit will be mailed and it will contain complete, detailed instructions to get your Change Bandit program started.

If you have any questions about the 15th annual “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Radiothon, please call Nicci Avalon at 330-543-8340 or email navalon@chmca.orgClick here for complete details.

Distinctly Downtown: Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar

Image¡Hola! There’s a new restaurant coming to Downtown Akron and it’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Owners Zack and Lisa Hirt are bringing modern Mexican cuisine to Akron with their restaurant Nuevo. Unlike the other Mexican restaurants around the area, they’re hoping to bring back authenticity – from their food to their décor.Image

Co-owner Zack was born and raised in Akron and said that he “never contemplated anywhere else” when it came to deciding where to open Nuevo. Along with his wife, Lisa, this will be the first restaurant either of them has owned.

While you’re admiring the artwork straight from Mexico, you can enjoy food cooked from the in-house smoker on the second floor patio. Braised beef, grilled steak and fish tacos will be among the choices.Image

When asked what the one thing everyone must try is, both Zack and Lisa agree it is their guacamoles; one will be accompanied with goat cheese. Their second choice would be any of the items under their bocaditos, appetizers.

What Nuevo means to Zack and Lisa is, “new, fresh and exciting.” It goes along with their concept of, “new ideas and fresh ingredients.” This is a, “concept new to Akron,” and both Lisa and Zack are excited to be bringing it to the city.

ImageAttendees of First Night Akron enjoyed a soft opening where they could see the progress that they’ve made to the building while enjoying Horchata, a traditional Mexican drink comparable to hot chocolate. But in Feb. 2014, the “vibrant, artsy, chic and laid back” restaurant will open for all to enjoy.

Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar is located at 54 E. Mill St. on the corner of Mill and High Streets in the Gothic Building.

By: Jessica Mohan
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: Life as a DAP Intern

I discovered that the city of Akron is blooming with new restaurants such as Italian Casual Dining Pronto and Mexican cuisine Nuevo, and attracting the community to different events such as Restaurant Week and Wednesday Hump Day. In effort to keep Akron a vibrant and an attractive city, it takes a lot of work, and such a small staff completes it. I had the privilege to intern with the non-profit organization that makes all of the magic happen for Downtown Akron and that is Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP).

My internship experience with DAP was beyond incredible. I discovered that there is not enough time in one day to accomplish the type of activities the team completes on a daily basis. Going into the internship I was not sure what to expect, but I assumed it was going to be a fast paced environment. DAP welcomed me into their office family with open arms and I could not imagine being anywhere else.

Throughout the last couple months I have worked on projects to prepare for First Night Akron. You might have seen me volunteering at Metro Traffic Jam, Akron Art Prize in

IG DAP at Ocasek Fair blog

conjunction with the Downtown Akron Artwalk or working inside of the DAP office. I received the opportunity to learn more about the terrific city of Akron and a chance to meet people in the community. At the community events, I handed out items such as DAP Band-Aids, First Night tattoos, DAP pens and Do Downtown saving cards.

My internship experience gave me the opportunity to dine at the downtown Akron restaurants such as Baxter’s and The Lockview. I enjoyed a tasty gourmet grilled cheese sandwich from The Lockview.
Rosheeda FN artist kits blogI formed long-lasting friendships and I learned a great deal of information at DAP that will prepare me for my future. I learned the importance of proper planning, organization and community involvement I am extremely excited for First Night Akron and I cannot wait to help with the event. I look forward to bringing in the New Year with the Akron community.

Distinctly Downtown: Anthony Long

Anthony Long-DAPAnthony Long is the newest member of Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) joining the organization in August 2013. With the title of operations assistant, Anthony helps the staff with analyzing and researching Special Improvement District incidents, assisting in special projects and providing support for events and programs including the Market at Lock 3 over the summer and the Holiday Market that opened on Nov. 29.

Akron has been home to Anthony for the majority of his life. He graduated from Central Hower High School and went on to study interactive media technology at Stark State College. Anthony also holds a bachelor’s degree in information technology and a master’s degree in computer and information systems that he received from Youngstown State University.

When he’s not in the office Anthony enjoys a variety of things including reading, cooking, working out and spending time with family and friends. You can catch him rooting for his favorite sports teams, Washington Redskins, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Blue Jays and Manchester United, as well.

Before coming to DAP, Anthony was heavily involved with coaching youths in the community. He coached basketball at the CYO level, for Akron Public Schools and was part of the LeBron James City League.

When asked how he feels about the changes to his hometown of Akron he said, “The changes in Akron are good. There are more options to eat, play and after work and weekends.” This year is Anthony’s first time going to First Night Akron and he’s excited to take be a part of it.

Beside the work that Anthony provides the staff, you can see him around the office, greeting you with a friendly smile and a positive attitude. We’re all very excited to have him on our staff!

By: Jessica Mohan
DAP intern