Opening Day: A Cincinnati Tradition

“The citizens of this Ohio city do not consider Opening Day just as Opening Day. They consider it one small notch below Christmas.” – Fred Schwed Jr.

If hope springs eternal, then baseball’s Opening Day gushes forth like a geyser. There are no wins, no losses – just the promise that summer will soon return, and the (often fleeting) feeling that this year you’re going to win the pennant. Just look at Cubs’ fans. They hoped for over a century on every Opening Day that this was the year. And it finally was.

Baseball is like that – slow, leisurely, patient. There are 162 games to prove you’re up to snuff and the cream rises to the top. But Opening Day hits with a flurry of activity and excitement, especially here in the Queen City. We were lucky enough to score tickets for the 2nd year in a row and I’m pumped.

opening day

Opening Day 2015

The Cincinnati Reds are granted a home game to start every season, and the history surrounding the team and Opening Day is rich. I won’t bore you with all of the details but those who are interested can read more here. Suffice to say, it’s a big deal and has been since the late 1800s. Playing hooky from work and school is not only expected, but often encouraged.

So what does all this mean? Lots of fun events and celebrations! Basically, if it’s a bar or Cincinnati landmark – there’s something going on, which can be overwhelming so that’s where I come in.

Here are the events on my radar:

  1. You can’t begin this list without mentioning the Findlay Market Parade, and 2017 marks its 98th year. Starting at Findlay Market, the parade, which starts at Noon, winds through OTR to Downtown with people lined up on the sidewalks cheering the parade on. Sean Casey, The Mayor, is Grand Marshall (the hub is thrilled). Pro Tip: Get there early to get a good spot. Rain or shine, people will be there!
  2. Washington Park hosts a family-friendly fun event that’s a great place to spot-up for the parade.
  3. Want a craft beer at 9 AM and a ride down to the ball park? Check out Rhinegeist for “Kegs and Eggs.” They’re opening bright and early and Craft Connection Brewery Tours will provide free shuttle service from the brewery to the stadium.
  4. Taft’s Ale House hosts it’s 3rd Annual Season Opener, and are serving up 1882: Opening Day Ale. There are lots of prizes, photos, and fun to be had. Again, another great place to watch the parade. Two Nellie Key Limes, please.
  5. Now, The Banks will be truly hopping as it sits a mere few feet from Great American Ballpark. Holy Grail, Tin Roof, etc. are going to be NUTS, in a good way. Morlein Lager House is stepping it up with a free concert with The Tillers. Doors open at 10 AM and there’s sure to be a lot of beer, food, and music. Plus, the Reds Community Fund Charity Block Party kicks off at 11 a.m. on Joe Nuxhall Way, Freedom Way and Walnut Street. It features food, beverage and live music from the Naked Karate Girls. Like I said, NUTS.
  6. If you want to avoid the madness of downtown and OTR, visit MadTree and hitch a ride. They’re normally closed on Mondays, but Opening Day is a special occasion. They’ll have a DJ playing tunes, and a shuttle to Fountain Square from 12-4 and 7-9.
  7. Fountain Square will be busy as it’s the heart of downtown. Give Back Cincinnati will hold its “2017 Rally on the Square”  with lots of MadTree beer from 10 AM – 6 PM.
opening day 2016

Opening Day 2016

Ohio in April is always tricky. It could be sunny and 70 or 35 and snowing. Looks like rain and mid-50s, which is a bit of a bummer, but I don’t think it will dampen the fun. The Reds are in let’s just say in a “re-building phase.” The politics of baseball and small market teams are for another time and place, but we should all face the facts that this team won’t be competing in October. Let’s be blunt: this team was not built to have a winning record. But hey – it’s Opening Day. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know the starting pitcher. Like I said earlier, there are no wins and no losses. Only promise.

My final advice whether you have tickets or not? Throw up the out of office, head to your favorite watering hall and/or Great American Ball Park, sit back, relax, and think “what if…”

What’s your favorite part of Opening Day? Let me know in the comments!



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