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Event picks for this New Year in Cleveland

Thursday | 29

Fresh Air

Skate, Sled, and Play at Akron's Lock 3

Take a spin on Ohio's largest seasonal ice-skating rink. Zip down a 150-foot sledding hill. Then check out the exhibits of Akron-made pottery and playthings at the American Toy & Marble Museum. That's just some of the fun you'll find at Lock 3 in downtown Akron. This activity-filled indoor-outdoor venue — near the banks of the former Ohio & Erie Canal — is at the heart of Akron's Holidayfest celebration, with easy access to restaurants, shops, and other entertainment spots like the Akron Civic Theatre. It's also cost-conscious, with skates renting for only $3, and both sledding and museum visits entirely free of charge. Today's hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The fun continues through January 29. Check out the website for directions and additional events. — Bentley Weisel

200 S. Main St., Akron, 330-375-2877,

Friday | 30

Improv at Big Dog Theater

She's With Dummy

W hen the improv duo Dummy takes the stage tonight at Big Dog Theater, it will mark yet another happy homecoming for Colleen Doyle. The comedian and co-founder of the two-person ensemble grew up in Rocky River and first dipped her toes into the waters of comedy as part of the inaugural class at Second City Cleveland, during its brief stay on Prospect Avenue. Then, as often happens with talented young Clevelanders, she moved to Chi-town, where she went on to study, perform, and eventually teach at the renowned improv powerhouse iO Chicago. Together with partner Jason Shotts — "We're a romantic/professional killing machine" — Doyle has taken Dummy from Chicago to New York, Austin, Cleveland, and elsewhere. "The thing about performing with Jason is that we trust each other completely. We never purposely do scenes about romantic relationships or use our own personal issues. [But] we definitely have more fights about improv than anything else — which is either a good thing or ScaryNerd8000." The box office opens at 8, and the show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8; get them at the box office (cash only), by phone, or online, where you'll also find a $1 discount coupon. — Elaine T. Cicora

2781 Euclid Hts. Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-472-3636,

At the Science Center

It's New Year's Eve Eve

Instead of imagining your grandmother's fruitcake exploding, come see it live and in person at the Great Lakes Science Center's New Year's Eve Eve Celebration. Filled with family friendly fun, tonight's science-minded festivities also include carpet-skating, test-tasting liquid nitrogen ice cream, and a chance to make your own fake snow. Besides all the hands-on activities, you can grab a seat at The Big Science Show or take in a double feature at the Omnimax: the beautifully filmed documentary Alaska and the animated favorite Santa vs. the Snowman. Complimentary hot cocoa and snacks will be served, but those craving heartier grub can ante up for dinner at Elements Cafe from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Then wrap it all up with a ginger-ale countdown and a 2,012-balloon drop. The fun begins at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $24, and reservations are required at the phone number below. Find out more on the website. — Weisel

601 Erieside Ave., 216-621-2400,

Spin Out

Ride With Critical Mass

Layer on the silk, spandex, and Thinsulate, and prepare to mount up tonight with Cleveland Critical Mass. The group of bicycling fans hits the streets on the last Friday of every month, and December is no exception. Of course, the monthly mass bike ride isn't just a local phenom: The Cleveland spin happens in concert with similar events in 300 international cities. While the original intent focused on raising car drivers' awareness of the need to share the road, these days the rides are as much about promoting health, adopting green lifestyles, and having some plain old fun. Cleveland bikers have been making a great showing: 160 participants turned out for the November ride around the Near West Side. Regardless of the weather, bikers are invited to meet on Public Square tonight at 6:30 p.m. in front of Terminal Tower. The ride departs at 7 p.m. Participation is free and open to the public; kids, however, must be accompanied by an adult. Look for details on the website or at the Cleveland Critical Mass Facebook page. — Jackie Bon

At the Beachland Ballroom

The Angry Rocky Inch Show

Take a breather from holiday benders to bend genders with the century's definitive drag-dressing heroines at the Beachland Ballroom. Tonight only, cast members of Chagrin Valley Little Theatre's summer production of The Rocky Horror Show reunite to thrust their sequin-studded pelvises across the stage where they'll be joined by musicians from Cleveland Public Theatre's 2000 production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Both acts ­— the Phantoms and the Angry Inch — pay homage to '70s glam rock in all its cross-dressing, provocative glory. Vanity Crash tops off the gender-fuck trinity with boa brandishing frontman Dan Folino, whose hiccuping vocals and warped lyrics recall the B-52s and even Oingo Boingo. Bust out the wig and spandex at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 by phone or online. — Kate Albing

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124,

Saturday | 31

Cleveland Pops

Three Phantoms Sing at Severance Hall

Under the guidance of conductor Carl Topilow, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra has been throwing a New Year's Eve party for the past 16 years. Tonight, though, is something special: Three of Broadway's best phantoms of the opera (Craig Schulman, Gary Mauer, and Ciaran Sheehan) will be welcoming the New Year at 9 p.m. with a concert of Broadway faves. In addition to solos, duets, and trios from the half-masked musical, you'll hear selections from Guys and Dolls, Sweeney Todd, Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, and more. After the concert, dancing in the grand foyer awaits you. "We have 16 members of the orchestra who play the dance music," says marketing director Gordon Petitt. "They cover a lot of genres too, so there's something for everybody." Coffee and desserts are free, but there are also several cash bars for those who get their best moves from a bottle. Hundreds of balloons will accompany midnight's champagne toast, and the party keeps going until 1 a.m. Tickets start at $44; snag them on the website below. — Phil Barnes

11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111,

Family Fun

First Night Akron

In the mood for a nomadic New Year's Eve? First Night Akron gives you a family friendly, booze-free celebration that will keep you on your toes all night. You'll find live music, theater, dance, arts, crafts, and more from more than 80 artists and performers spread throughout nearly a dozen downtown venues — including the Akron Art Museum, the Akron-Summit Public Library, and the Akron Civic Theater. Weather shouldn't be a problem, since most events are indoors and there will be buses on hand to shuttle you from site to site. Food will be available for purchase to help keep up your strength. And two fireworks displays — one at 9 p.m. and another at midnight — mean even sleepyheads can greet the New Year with a bang. It all begins at 6 p.m. Admission buttons are $10 for adults; kids under the age of 10 get in for free. Get your buttons and details on parking, venues, and events at the website below. — Weisel

Downtown Akron, 330-374-7690,

Great Lakes Brewing Company

Happy Brew Year!

In this beer-guzzling town, a New Year's Eve without suds is as unthinkable as a lake without zebra mussels. Fortunately, you can greet 2012 with some of the best beer around, as Great Lakes Brewing Company hosts one heck of a year-end party. Among the attractions: music from Becky Boyd's Jazz Trio hitting everything from B.B. King to Motown classics, and wizardry from Cleveland magician Rick Smith Jr., who's had face time on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ripley's Believe it or Not, and America's Got Talent. The party kicks off at 7 p.m.; at midnight, raise a glass in a very special beer toast. Tickets are $60 and include hors d'oeuvres and three drink tickets for beer and wine. But move quickly: Seats are going fast. Snag them on the website before it's too late. — Bon

2516 Market Ave., 216-771-4404,

Sunday | 01

Breakfast at Tommy's

Eat Pancakes for the Arts

Arguably the culinary epicenter of Coventry Village, Tommy's Restaurant cements its status as a cultural hub with its annual New Year's Day Pancake Breakfast. Unlimited stacks of fluffy, from-scratch flapjacks fill diners' bellies and the coffers of Heights Arts, a nonprofit that kick-starts creative art projects on Coventry. The inaugural Pancake Breakfast helped fuel construction of the Coventry Arch in 2001 and has since supplied funding for the benches, fences, and street signs that enliven Coventry Village's quarter-mile strip of independent shops. While waiting to indulge, patrons can peruse the independent bookshop next door, while tykes swarm local balloon artist Ron the Flower Clown. In addition to an appetite, patrons are encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift for the Pancake Breakfast raffle. Tix are $10 for adults and $5 for children; chow down from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Albing

1824 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, 216-321-7757,

Fresh Air

Tobogganing at the Chalet

Feel like you've outgrown the ol' Radio Flyer? Maybe it's time to take your downhill thrills to new and more exciting heights. The Chalet Recreation Area in the Mill Stream Run Reservation — part of the Cleveland Metroparks — has just the ticket: two 1,000-foot toboggan chutes that operate with or without snow throughout the winter. Sure, riders have to lug their toboggans to the top of the hill via a 124-step staircase. But zooming back down at speeds approaching 45 miles per hour is a thrill worthy of an amusement park. Just be sure to dress warmly and wear mittens or gloves to grip the toboggan ropes. Adults can ride all day for $8; a single ride will set you back $3, and can be upgraded to an all-day pass once you discover how much fun it is. The refrigerated chutes are open today from noon to 5 p.m. The season continues through mid-March. Check out the website for details. — Smith

16200 Valley Parkway, Strongsville, 440-572-9990,

Beachland Bump & Grind

The Roxy Remembered

Before burning through your list of resolutions, why not first pay homage to a piece of Cleveland history? Situated on downtown's once-legendary Short Vincent, the Roxy Theatre was the region's best-known burlesque house in the 1930s and a top stop for entertainers like Abbott & Costello, Red Buttons, Tempest Storm, and Blaze Starr. Despite its early glory, the theater fell on hard times in the 1960s, as burlesque became code for "girly shows" and porn flicks; it was shuttered in 1977 and razed not long after. Still, modern-day performers like Bella Sin of Ohio Burlesque hold the spot in high regard. So much so that she will be devoting much of tonight's showcase — The Second Annual Roxy Remembered Gala at the Beachland Ballroom — to displaying pictures, artifacts, and costumes salvaged from the old theater. Also on tonight's schedule: a clip from the documentary The Rust Belt Bump and Grind, tunes from DJ Saint, and dancing by Sin, Twiggy Stardust, Fantasie D'light, and others. Doors open at 8:30, the show begins at 9, and general admission is only $10. Tickets can be had by phone, online, or at the door, where college students ages 18 and up get in for $5 by showing their IDs. — Barnes

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124,

Monday | 02

At the Science Center

Warm Up at the IMAX

What better way to shirk winter's frigid grip than to plunge into tropical Tahitian waters — even if only for 45 minutes? The Great Lakes Science Center's IMAX Theatre immerses viewers in a sun-dappled world of perfect waves and sudden storms in The Ultimate Wave Tahiti, which documents those crests and troughs through the eyes of world champion surfers Kelly Slater and native Tahitian Raimana Van Bastolaer. In addition to the duo's board tricks, the doc also plumbs the depths of waves themselves — both through the camera's sublime angles and the film's ecological bent. "An ocean wave is an energy wave at human scale, something we can see, touch, swim through, and ride upon," says Linda Abraham-Silver, president and CEO of Great Lakes Science Center. "This film not only showcases the magic of waves; it conveys important messages about where waves come from and why they are critical to the ecosystem." A few close-ups of taut-bellied surfer babes don't dampen that message one bit. Tix are $11 for adults and $9 for kids, and can be purchased online or at the box office. Today's show times are noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. — Albing

601 Erieside Avenue, 216-694-2000,

Tuesday | 03

Inner Peace

Hatha Yoga in the Garden

"There is no such thing as peace of mind," says yoga instructor Clyde Chafer. "The mind will do everything it can to raise havoc with your life." Fortunately, yoga provides the tools to help you fight back — and Chafer will be sharing them this winter inside the lush confines of the Cleveland Botanical Garden in a series of Tuesday-evening lessons. This is Chafer's fourth year of teaching Hatha yoga at the Botanical Garden, and his class is designed to improve flexibility, promote emotional health, and rejuvenate the whole body. "The physical is just a very small portion of the practice of yoga," he says. "It's about the sensations of the fluctuations of the mind. This class will help people figure out how to let go of their stresses, tension, and chill out." If that sounds like a good response to your post-holiday blues, the current six-week session begins today and continues every Tuesday from 5:45 to 7 p.m. Cost is $90 for adults and less for CBG members. Beginners and advanced practitioners are welcome. Register by phone or online, where you'll find more information. — Bon

11030 East Blvd. 216-721-1600 x100,

Wednesday | 04

Family Fun

Polar Bear Days at the Zoo

In addition to snowman longevity, we now have yet another reason to rejoice when the temperature dips below freezing: Polar Bear Days, which translates as half-price admission to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Now through January, patrons can ogle the zoo's grizzly cubs and the rest of the cold weather gang at a discount whenever the thermometer reads 32 degrees or below. And don't worry about the cold temps: Heated shuttles whisk patrons across the frost-kissed grounds, making it easy to jet from the Primate, Cat and Aquatics Building to the Rainforest, where it's always a balmy 78 degrees. On Polar Bear Days, admission is $4 for adults and $2.50 for kids. The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; find out if today is a Polar Bear Day online or by phone. — Albing

3900 Wildlife Way, 216-661-6500,

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