When it comes to the availability of events offered throughout a given year, downtown Akron’s pretty well-rounded. There seems to be something for just about everyone, whether a sports fan, culture seeker, an ice skater or even those fascinated with the paranormal.
Granted, the cost of some of these outings may prove prohibitive for some folks. But once again there’s an opportunity to partake in these types of events and more — and for a fraction of their usual admission cost.
The Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) will launch its second Downtown Akron Passport program during First Night, the family-oriented New Year’s Eve celebration that’s been welcoming revelers since ringing in 1997.
For just $15, Passport allows each participant to attend 16 separate events, the first being First Night, staged throughout 2013 in and around downtown Akron. If one were to attend all of these events without a Passport, it would cost $213.
“This is something we dreamed up … it morphed into the Passport program,” said Rich Hoselton, DAP’s director of events. “On the 15th anniversary of First Night, there was a special button that allowed people to get into different venues throughout the coming year. And because that was so successful, we decided to try it as a Passport last year. First Night is our signature event, but it’s only one night of the year, so the intent is to get more traffic downtown throughout the entire year.”
About 750 people bought a Passport 2012. Holders are given a “Passport” that will be stamped after each event they attend, some of which require registration.
“The venues are spaced out nicely where there’s something every month or a month in between, where you could plan to go to a fair majority of them,” said Sharon Gillberg, communications director for DAP.
There’s a diverse mix of 2013 events planned for Passport participants, who may choose to attend all or some of the remaining 15 events that will play out after First Night.
With events having more than one date, such as the Akron Symphony’s Concert for Kids in late April and early May of next year, Passport holders have the option to select one of the three performance dates.
Other Passport venues include a visit to the Akron Art Museum for a day in July, a $7 value; ice skating at Lock 3 in January, $10 value; Opening Day at Canal Park in April, $20 value, and for ghost chasers, a paranormal tour at the Perkins Mansion in October, which normally costs $15.
Not every month has an event, but there’s plenty to pick from: a peep behind the scenes at the Actors’ Summit, a Tuesday Musical with the Canadian Brass Band, a race around the track with the Rubber City Roller Girls, and the Illusion Factory offers an improv seminar for children.
Enthusiasts may purchase their Passport from Acme Fresh Markets, Akron Art Museum, Angel Falls Coffee, the Library Shop on Main, Lock 3, Actors’ Summit Theatre, Gasoline Alley, NOTO and Stage Left Boutique at Akron Civic Theatre.
Not only do Passport holders get to sample a variety of entertainment during 2013 and for little cost, the program allows a small means of supplemental income for others.
“It’s not a fundraiser for us,” Hoselton said. “But we promote it to other nonprofits and schools to use as one.”
Gillberg added that $5 of the $15 cost goes to the schools and nonprofits selling Passports. It’s quite an endeavor to round up these venues for First Night, which now includes Passport.
“It’s a year-round planning process,” Hoselton said. “I started planning this [Passport] in January and First Night 2013 on December 31 of last year, when I booked the first act for this year.”
More than 18,000 people brought in 2012, “the largest First Night attendance since the new millennium,” Hoselton added.
Part of DAP’s mission is to make Akron more vibrant, and Hoselton recalled hearing from some of last year’s Passport holders.
“Some of them told me it was the best $15 they ever spent in their lives.”
For additional information about Downtown Akron Passport, visit www.downtownakron.com/passport or call (330) 374-7676.