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Somber Party 

Puerto Rican Festival honors late Cleveland jazzman.

Revelers reveling at the Puerto Rican Cultural Festival - & Parade.
  • Revelers reveling at the Puerto Rican Cultural Festival & Parade.

If organizers were stumped on which bands to book for the Puerto Rican Cultural Festival & Parade, they knew the late Roberto Ocasio's jazz orchestra would come to the rescue.

After Ocasio died in a January car crash, the festival's committee decided to make this year's fiesta an homage to the local bandleader. Invitations were sent to Latino bands across the country, and many of Ocasio's friends -- including Richie Ray, Charlie Cruz, and Ray Sepulveda -- agreed to perform. "He was well known in New York and Chicago," says chairman Joe Santiago. "This [is] in memory of him."

The festival's highlight is Sunday's 1 p.m. parade. The procession's king and queen will lead, followed by high school marching bands and floats designed by artists from Cuba and Trinidad. Along the route will be many tributes to Ocasio. "The community is still very saddened by his death," Santiago says. "But we know we still have to go on, and we still have his music to listen to." The fest runs from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday at the Cleveland Municipal Parking Lot, 1601 South Marginal Road. Admission is free; call 216-631-1081. -- Cris Glaser

Pub, Grub, and Crawl
Belly up at the party, then go run off the carbs.

SAT 7/17

Weekend warriors, unite! Basic training for road racers and bar crawlers begins at the starting line promptly at happy hour. Saturday's Winking Lizard Shot in the Dark is a four-mile downtown run that offers a healthy balance of exercise, eats . . . and plenty of fluids for recovery. "We wanted the race to be fun and culminate with a miniparty [with] beer and music," says John Lane, Winking Lizard Tavern's owner. "Runners can be very social after a race, because they have something in common to talk about." Participants and spectators can warm up at 5:30 p.m. at a street party on Huron Road (which will be blocked off to accommodate a beer garden and stage). The race takes off at 7 p.m. at East 9th Street and Prospect and finishes at the Gateway Winking Lizard (811 Huron Road). Admission to the party is free; race registration is $25. Call 216-589-0313 for info. -- Kristen Hampshire

Homegrown Sounds
Blues is the news at Summerfest.

SAT 7/17

Travis "Moonchild" Haddix will close Saturday's Jazz & Blues Summerfest with the same line he always uses: "I am the best that I can be. And since no one else can be me, there's none better." Haddix credits his onstage self-esteem to Robert Lockwood Jr., who raised the bar on how to leave audiences begging for more bad-dog blues. "Robert never told me how to play," says the 65-year-old Haddix, who shares the festival's billing with Tony Fortunato & the Emperors of Swing. "But he gave me some of the best advice on the business of the blues." Music runs from 7 to 10 p.m. at Cleveland Browns Stadium, 1085 West 3rd Street. Tickets are $21; call 216-721-5526. -- Cris Glaser

G'Day, Mate

SAT 7/17

We have no idea why the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo would celebrate Australia Day, let alone Half Way to Australia Day. But who's to argue when Saturday's fete includes such Aussome events as Fun Crocodile Facts, Outback Survival, Dingo Lingo, and Vegemite-tasting? It happens from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way. Admission is $9, $4 for kids; call 216-661-6500. -- Michael Gallucci

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