Season Opener: Spring in Cincinnati
A fresh beginning
Three F/A-18 Hornets thunder in tight formation over Cincinnati's Race Street, the growl of their engines ricocheting through the run-down Over-The-Rhine neighborhood and its foodie paradise, Findlay Market. People decked in red around the market look up, applaud and cheer, then go back to shining old fire trucks, petting draft horses and prepping for the Opening Day parade. No one asks why the Navy jets are here; everyone knows they make an annual National Anthem run over the Reds' Great American Ball Park.
It's a source of pride in Cincy that the nation's first professional baseball club always opens its season at home—the only team to do so. No matter when it takes place (April 1, 2013), Opening Day marks a fresh beginning for Cincinnati, a place that local historian Bennie Butler calls a Southern city with a Northern address because of its position along the Ohio River and its conflicted past. That Southern feeling stems from the weather, too. Spring arrives weeks earlier here than it does throughout most of the Midwest.
Flowering dogwoods and pear trees along Eden Park Drive draw visitors to Krohn Conservatory, where trees grow plump with oranges, lemons and kumquats. Iron-trimmed park benches overlooking the river offer a moment's peace and a bird's-eye view of boat traffic. Daffodils peek out of wooded parkways in the Tudor-style Mariemont neighborhood, and at the Cincinnati Zoo, more than a million bulbs cluster around historic buildings powered by new solar panels.