February 14, 2011

CWRU Student, Alum Create Festival Celebrating the Season

Brite Winter Cleveland
Attendees gather by the bonfire at last year's festival.
Photography by Lindsay Bruner.

After a week of temperatures hovering in the single digits, it might seem odd to celebrate winter—but that’s precisely what members of the Case Western Reserve University community are setting out to do with the second Brite Winter festival Feb. 19. The free, public event, to be held in Hart Crane Memorial and Rivergate Parks in The Flats from 5 to 10 p.m., is the brainchild of biomedical engineering PhD student Jimmy Harris and Case Western Reserve alumna Emily Hornack (GRS ’10).

Hornack and Harris had both been tossing around the idea of a winter festival and put it into effect last year. “For me, winter—and having four seasons—is one of the things that makes Northeast Ohio so great,” Hornack explained. “I wanted to do something that helped people realize that.” Thus, they developed Brite Winter, which boasts the tagline, “Celebrate, don’t hibernate!”

Giant SkeeballBrite Winter will feature nearly a dozen live music acts, artwork from local artists, light displays, a giant skeeball game, kinetic light drums, snow mini golf, a giant claw game and ski-bike racing. Additionally, there will be bonfires to keep attendees warm, as well as hot food and beverages from restaurants, coffee shops and food trucks.

Now in its second year, the event is garnering media attention, and many university organizations and individuals are chipping in to celebrate the winter season. University sponsors of Brite Winter include the Graduate Student Senate, Graduate Professional Council, Graduate Business Student Association and the Class of 2011. Additionally, the Office of Student Affairs and Colleen Barker-Williamson in Student Activities & Leadership have provided guidance throughout the process, Harris said. Last year Brite Winter earned a Center for Civic Engagement & Learning mini-grant and received initial funding from the Office of the Provost. There are about 20 day-of volunteers with a connection to the Case Western Reserve community, organized by Ariel Cascio, a graduate student in anthropology who serves as volunteer coordinator and worked on sponsorships in her second year with Brite Winter. “Without all of these groups, this event would not be possible,” Hornack said.

Harris said he hopes to engage the university community more in coming years, such as using Brite Winter as a Capstone project or just getting more faculty, staff and students involved overall.

Brite Winter Cleveland

“We're proud to be representing CWRU in a way that brings together CWRU student organizations with [Cleveland State University], local businesses, community development corporations, local nonprofits, and regular Joe Clevelands,” Hornack added. “We hope that CWRU as an institution and as individuals take advantage of the opportunity to be exposed to the cultural and entrepreneurial fabric of our community.”

Harris said the goal of Brite Winter is to connect people with each other as well as the city. “There is a whole city surrounding Cleveland, and everyone can benefit from better acquainting themselves with the incredible art, culture, food, people and natural resources of Cleveland,” he said. “There is a lot in Cleveland. Sometimes it might be hard to find, but not at Brite.”

But don’t take Harris’ word for it—find out for yourself by attending Brite Winter Feb. 19. Not sure how to get there? “Although it's not on campus, it's really easy to get to,” Cascio said. “Just take the Rapid to the stop at West 25th Street and follow the crowd and the sound of merriment.”

For more information, visit the festival’s website.

Posted by: Emily Mayock, February 14, 2011 09:05 AM | News Topics: Events

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