The Cincinnati Reds are heading into 2019 more optimistic than they’ve been in several years, with the acquisitions of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Tanner Roark and others. It comes just in time for a banner year in Opening Day festivities, which were always a tad more special in Cincinnati than in other major league cities.
Here’s the lowdown on how to spend this special Opening Day, on Thursday, March 28, but proceed with caution. If you’re not careful, you might be ready for bed before the Reds even take on their division rivals, Pittsburgh Pirates, at 4:10 p.m.
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⚾ Findlay Market Parade
The Opening Day parade will hit two milestones in 2019: the 100th anniversary of the parade being at Findlay Market, and the 150th anniversary for the Cincinnati Opening Day parade overall. The grand marshal is Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, and the parade ambassador is Reds Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench.
Other local celebrities and ex-Reds appearing in various floats include Bootsy Collins, Otis Williams (of Otis Williams and the Charms), Anthony Munoz, Marty Brennaman, Ron Oester, Chris Welsh, Tom Browning, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Gov. Mike DeWine and more.
The parade will be going back to the standard route this year, starting at Findlay Market on Race Street, traveling down Race tol 5th Street, then turning east on 5th and ending at the Taft Theatre. Ideal viewing locations are Fountain Square, Washington Park (featuring games, live music and refreshments) and, new this year, the Findlay Market biergarten, featuring beer from 3 Points Urban Brewery.
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⚾ Reds Community Fund Charity Block Party
Entering its eighth year, this block party will feature food from LaRosa’s, Queen City Sausage, Buffalo Wings & Rings and other restaurants, Coca-Cola products, beer from Anheuser-Busch, cocktails from Jim Beam and Tito’s, and live music at the corner of Joe Nuxhall Way and Freedom Way from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Party right up until it’s time to enter the stadium to watch the game. All proceeds benefit the youth baseball programs for the Reds Community Fund.
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⚾ Moerlein Lager House Pre-Party
This popular pregame hangout located right across from GABP is throwing its pre-party on its adjacent Schmidlapp Event Lawn from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come out for the party tent, DJ, Moerlein beers, and full menu and service. (115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, www.moerleinlagerhouse.com)
⚾ Breakfast with Sam Adams
For those truly ambitious Opening Day revelers, the Sam Adams Taproom at Findlay Market is starting its party at 9 a.m. Come out for coffee, breakfast and, yep, lots of beer. The party lasts all day. (1727 Logan St., Cincinnati)
⚾ Opening Day Specials
Several other downtown restaurants will be throwing Opening Day pre-parties as well, often with food and drink specials to commemorate the occasion.
• Rosedale OTR: The party starts at noon with $3.50 White Claws and $5 Queen City brats and metts. At 4 p.m., enjoy a half-price Happy Hour and the game projected on Rosedale’s giant outdoor screen. (208 E. 12th St., www.rosedaleotr.com)
• The Righteous Room: This bar and lounge located across from the Aronoff Center is also starting its party at noon, celebrating the 150th anniversary with $1.50 Jell-O shots and a “grand slam” party package that features Rhinegeist Hustle (first base), Sam Adams 513 (second base), MadTree Rounding Third (third base), and a shot of Jameson for crossing home. The resident DJ will keep the music pumping throughout. (641 Walnut St., www.therighteousroom.com)
• Other Opening Day pre-party spots include Arnold’s Bar and Grill, Rhinegeist Brewery, AC Hotel Upper Deck, Top of the Park, and Sonder Brewing.
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⚾ Kids Opening Day
Once you’ve had a chance to recover, it’ll be your kids’ turn. On March 30, the day will start with a block party at the Banks at 10 a.m., featuring a parade of mascots and actual Reds players. The party will also include a pedal car raceway, a gaming truck, live music and other activities. Every kid younger than 14 years old will receive a Reds cap. After the 2:10 game vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates, there will be a kids-only run-the-bases.