Sunday, September 19, 2004

Crowds gathered early for downtown activities

Queen City Fusion: Something for just about everybody

By Sheila McLaughlin
Enquirer staff writer

Darlene and Natalie Mangham thought they would "get a jump on the crowds" Saturday.

It wasn't meant to be.


Today's events

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fifth and Vine streets, downtown.

Ohio Classic Black College Fair, noon-4 p.m., Westin Hotel, 21 E. Fifth St., downtown. More than 20 historically black colleges and universities represented. Free. (800) 611-0368.

Reds baseball, 1:15 p.m., Great American Ball Park, vs. Chicago Cubs $8-200. (513) 381-7337.

Area Wide Worship Service, 2-5 p.m., Northern Kentucky Convention Center, 1 W. RiverCenter Blvd., Covington. Music, worship and guest speaker Joe Beam. Free. (859) 431-1613.

Bengals football, 8:30 p.m., Paul Brown Stadium, vs. Miami Dolphins. Sold out. (513) 621-8383.

Getting around
Downtown map (PDF)
Driving directions
Current traffic conditions
Latest weather reports

Park for $1 for the first two hours in one of four downtown garages: Fountain Square North, Gramercy, The Westin, and Fifth and Race. (Just look for the $1 Park signs.)

Park and ride

Metro's Oktoberfest Express is operating from the following park-and-ride locations:

• Western Hills Plaza and Forest Park (1160 Kemper Meadow Drive), which will stop at Seventh and Race, downtown

• Raymond Walters College (9555 Plainfield Road) and Union Township Civic Center (4350 Aicholtz Road), which will stop at Fifth and Broadway, downtown.

Fare is $3 round trip, or $2 one way. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. today.


More Big Weekend coverage

The Mount Airy sisters arrived downtown by 11 a.m. to eat a relaxing lunch at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and pick up a T-shirt for Natalie's collection.

By noon, while Darlene grabbed a plate of blackened fish, the women perched on a wall at Fountain Square trying to avoid the growing throng of people juggling strollers, plates of German delicacies and cups of beer.

"All these events," Natalie mused. "People can just stay at the hotels and walk right on down here."

Oktoberfest wasn't the only game in town Saturday as the city braced for up to a million visitors to converge on downtown for Queen City Fusion - a weekend of festivals, sports and other events that was projected to pump $72 million into the local economy.

Saturday afternoon, Norwoodians Michael and Deborah Winford, their three youngsters and a nephew strolled down Elm Street headed for the college football matchup at Paul Brown Stadium. They missed kickoff a half hour earlier, but they weren't in a hurry.

"We are just going to hang out for a while. Probably, while we're here, we'll make an evening of it," Michael Winford, said, adding that Oktoberfest was a possibility.

"You've got this. You've got Oktoberfest. You've got the Reds tonight and the Joe Nuxhall thing, and the Bengals tomorrow. The city should do good."

At Oktoberfest, some vendors had stocked up more than usual, betting on larger-than-normal crowds.

Garry Norris, whose felt chicken hats were selling for "10 bocks" apiece, said his Texas company had added a second vendor booth and increased its stock of handmade hats this year to 4,000.

"Last year, we had 2,500 and one booth, and we sold out," he said.

UC Bearcat Dance Team members working the Warsteiner beer booth at Vine Street couldn't guess how much beer would flow.

People started lining up at 10:45 a.m., 15 minutes before Oktoberfest opened, they said. Even so, they were confident the booth wouldn't run out of suds.

"The Warsteiner and Miller guys are here and they're constantly stocking," said coach Lisa Spears of Norwood.

"It's gonna be nuts."

Carol Kapostasy, was typical of the people city leaders hoped to draw with Fusion.

The seventh-grade teacher ventured from her home in Cleveland specifically for Oktoberfest. Even though she and her husband have family in town, the couple was staying at a hotel. They had Reds tickets for both weekend games.

Decked out in one of Norris' chicken hats, Kapostasy was enjoying the festivities and the sights.

"This city looks so much bigger, and it's cleaner than Cleveland."

About a half block away, a street preacher was trying to drum up business, calling out to a few middle-aged women: "Are you interested in Jesus Christ?"

"Not today," laughed one of the women, nursing a half-full Warsteiner.



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