College sports is a big deal, both socially and financially, and every city longs to host the finals of the basketball season. This year the NCAA Women’s Final Four was held in Columbus, and as with all major sporting events now they have a festival to accompany the games.
One of the highlights for this weekend was an event called ‘Bounce’, which gives thousands of kids a free basketball and T Shirt and allows them to dribble along the street next to Nationwide Arena up to the Convention Center where there was a number of activities for them (as well as adults).
To coordinate such an event takes lots of volunteers, who all seemed to be having as much fun as the kids.
But eventually they were set loose – the sound of basketballs dribbling reverberating off the buildings.
The little ones even maintained their focus.
Soon the street was filled with the kids and their parents.
Once they reached the convention center there were unique skills tests waiting for them.
A highly energetic host lead a game of ‘basketball musical chairs’, requiring them to dribble around the circle in the middle of the court – when the music stopped they had to run down, make a basket and head back. Easily the host was the most amusing part of the day.
I am not certain the city makes the money back they invest in the games, but it does draw some attention to the city, for a few days at least.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial purpose is to “provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience.”
As part of that this years exhibit includes an exhibit called “Make New History”. This exhibit features a number of architectural interpretations of a redesign of the iconic Tribune Tower.
Interestingly the venue for this very modern exhibit is the classic Chicago Cultural Center, including the stunning stained glass dome in the Grand Army of the Republic rotunda.
Before arriving at the main exhibit room we visited some displays of miniatures.
The details on most were amazing, although some of the more abstract ones looked like a discarded toy box. This model was an Asian interpretation of the Tribune Tower.
Full view of the Serie Architects ‘Far Eastern Headquarters’ model.
The Tribune Tower is a Neo Gothic building completed in 1925. The various interpretations varied greatly from that design.
6a architects view was meant to resemble a totem pole of stacked artifacts.
Architect and ‘urbanist’ Charles Waldheiim went even further with a number of interpretations of famous Chicago buildings including the John Hancock Center, Willis Tower, Marina City and the Thompson Center.
Called Heliomorphic Chicago it is set up in the classic Chicago grid street system.
This year I learned something new, the legend of ‘Krampus’. According to the legend (and Wikipedia), Krampus is a half goat- half demon who during the Christmas season punishes children who have been bad. Over time the legend coupled Krampus with Saint Nicholas to encourage children to be good.
For a full description please see the Wiki link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus
Krampus celebrations are a big deal in Germany, Austria and other countries in the region. This was the first I had seen any celebrations in the states, and while small, was entertaining.
The group gathered in the a parking lot in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus.
Noise makers and elaborate costumes were the order of the day.
Apparently the Grinch and Mrs Grinch fit the bill as well. The costumes were great.
Three horned ladies.
The legend says they use sticks to ‘whip the children into behaving’. Clearly not a 21st century approach.
The parade went down the sidewalk for about 3 blocks.
I behaved myself.
Another Krampus monster.
Mrs Claus has a new look, along with apparently a Clint Eastwood fan. Hopefully this celebration catches on and grows larger each year – it is a nice change from the repetitiveness of the usual Christmas celebrations and festivals.
December has brought the Chinese Lantern Festival back to town. Celebrating the art and craft of Sichuan, China, the lanterns are a beautiful combination of fabrics and light.
As you enter the grounds you are immediately greeted by a canopy of lanterns.
The displays are very large – the one below is approximately 50′ across by 15′ high.
Many dealt with wildlife, most coming from the Chinese Calendar.
More nature is celebrated with giant flowers.
The Lovers arches.
This year the entertainment was moved inside, avoiding the extreme cold that often occurs in December in Ohio. These young ladies had amazing agility and strength.
The face-changing actor was the only return act from last year – still amazing.
The plate spinners. While we don’t often repeat activities the Chinese Lantern Festival will be an annual event.
The Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio was the host for the annual Gourd Show. Apparently a lot of people like making art out of gourds. With the results it is obvious there are some skilled gourd-artist around.
There was also entertainment. While we were there a band called the ‘Rum River Blend’ played a mix of acoustic rock, bluegrass and folk. Their fiddle player, Carl, was 95 years old (he was the 1948 Ohio Fiddle Champion)!
Let’s give it up for Carl!
Calgary, Alberta was the next stop, where we arrived right as the Pride Parade ended. People were in a festive mood.
There is a bluff just north of downtown Calgary offering a nice view of the downtown skyline.
The river was a favorite rafting spot.
The impressive pedestrian/biking ‘Peace Bridge’.
While there are some older buildings downtown, much has been replaced with new skyscrapers.
Calgary is famous for it’s rodeo, the Calgary Stampede. Part of the grounds is the arena, the Saddledome.
The city has been celebrating Canada 150.
On a monthly basis a group gets together at various venues around town to show off their high end cars, while providing pastries and coffee on Saturday mornings. This Saturday it was held near Nationwide Arena, the home of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.