Lock 3 in downtown Akron is ready for the holidays.
The official tree lighting begins tonight at 7:00 followed by fireworks.
Other attractions are open earlier, including a new polymer skating rink and the reindeer run - also utilizing polymer. The traditional ice skating rink has been open. Also, the Akron Children's Museum pop up will be open along with the magical train ride.
Saturday is the annual Welcome Santa Parade. City officials expect about 75 units to participate, including costume characters, floats and marching bands. Of course, the man from the North Pole will serve as the finale before leaving his sleigh for some time at Lock 3.
Criminals using social media to lure victims is a popular M.O - because it often works.
Just ask a 19-year old Akronite who was robbed of the Air Jordan shoes he was trying to sell. He got a hit off a mention on Instragram, so he and his friend drove to the Orlando Avenue and Slossen Street vicinity to meet the buyer. The buyer brought a couple of his friends, too ... plus a gun.
He guy with the gun got the shoes.
The seller got no money.
The victim quickly got to Copley Road and called the cops. The descriptions don't do much to narrow it down, as provided verbatim from the Akron Police Department:
"The suspects are three black males, 17 – 21 years old. The first suspect is 5’11” and 160 lbs., wearing a black Northface hooded sweatshirt and goes by the name either Eric or Aaron and was armed with a silver handgun. The second suspect is a5’07” and 150 lbs., and was wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt and jeans. The third suspect was wearing a gray and red hooded sweatshirt, a dark colored skull cap and headphones."
It's not difficult to see the shift in Thanksgiving weekend shopping patterns.
It was just a couple of years ago that mall and other retail store parking lots were filled to the edges in the early morning hours of Black Friday.l
In fact, the days of big sales starting at 3:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. seem to be over because there's a big push to shop earlier and earlier. Many popular retail chains opened again this year on Thanksgiving, many around 6:00 p.m., then closed a few hours later and reopened anywhere between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.
Amy of Akron was at Summit Mall around 4:00 this morning and doesn't like the trend. She didn't give in and opted to observe Thanksgiving in a traditional way.
"I think it's for family and I don't think the stores should be open on Thanksgiving," said Amy. "It kind of ruins Black Friday. I mean it's good for us now because there's hardly anybody here but I think it kind of ruins it."
Amy and her friend, Brenda, weren't happy with the sales at a particular retailer compared to 2014, although they still loaded several bags each into an SUV.
"Last year we went earlier and it was 50% off but they don't have that anymore," said Brenda. "Now they have it open all day at 40% off."
Jasmine of Akron was happy with the bargains she found at one of the mall's anchor stores.
"Yes, surpirsingly. I got two pairs of Joggers for $20. That's like impossible."
A couple of vehicles pulled up around 5:00 a.m. containing a whole family from Holmes County. Sure, they wanted good deals but it was really more about doing what they do together every year.
"It's kind of a family tradition and buying some gifts for other people in the family."
Regardless of what times and which days people shop, analysts are expecting sales, overall, to top 2014 numbers.
A Thanksgiving Day Amber Alert serves as a good example of why people outside the immediate area should pay attention.
The alert was issued around 12:30 a.m. Thursday in Belmont County. Eleven hours later and 70 miles away in Canton, some alert drivers recognized Mandy Myer's car on I-77. They called 911 and stayed on the line with dispatchers long enough for state troopers to safely catch up to the southbound vehicle.
Troopers say they pulled over Myer's car just south of Bolivar in Tuscarawas County.
Myer's children, ages 6 and 8, were inside the car and they were okay.
Myer hasn't been charged but that could change when the investigation is complete.
If you think putting on Thanksgiving dinner is challenging, try cooking for several hundred people ... and you don't even know for sure how many are coming.
That's the task at Haven of Rest Ministries on Thanksgiving Day. Assistant Food Service Manager JoNell Muth says they cooked 250 turkeys, 300 pounds of potatoes and 1,000 pumpkin pies.
"They get real potatoes on Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Muth.
Director of Operations Rev. Curtis Thomas says some of the people who show up for the dinner end up becoming clients.
I think the time that they're here for the meal they can forget about the problems that brought them here and once they've talked to our staff it's a great opening to say, 'hey, I need some help,'" said Thomas.
Thomas was expecting to serve up to 800 people Thursday. It took about 125 volunteers to make it happen.
Of course, both Muth and Thomas offer reminders that while Thanksgiving and Christmas meals attract more people, it's nearly a full house every day at Haven of Rest.
It looks like another successful Thanksgiving Day fundraiser for Gennesaret. The organization puts together a four mile and a one mile race near Glendale Cemetery to help fund its mission of providing housing to the homeless and feeding people who are hungry.
Donna Crookston of Barberton says it's about the cause and it's about family camaraderie ...in her case, all 15 of them.
"Trying to instill in them the good things that we need to know," said Crookston, whose family has been participating the last 12-15 years.
It's a family affair for Brian Smith and Brendon Schrock, too.
"My brother and his family do it and they asked me if I wanted to do it, too," said Smith.
Smith and Shrock were first-timers at the race but it sounds like it won't be their last time.
"Yeah, I'll probably come back," said Schrock.
There were people who look serious about running. Others weren't dressed for racing, although the 1-mile event is considered a "walk/fun run." Quite a few people wore Thanksgiving-inspired hats or other clothing.
Corrine Ward of Akron stood along West Exchange Street to cheer on people as they approached the finish line.
"I'm cheering for everybody that's running today because it's about supporting each other and being blessed that we're healthy enough to do this together," said Ward.
Many of the runners crossed the line, grabbed some water, then practically ran again ... straight to the Krispy Kreme donut shop about a hundred yards away. There was a line out the door.
Mother Nature couldn't have been more kind to the 6th Annual Thanks4Giving All-Star Football Game.
The game kicked off Thursday morning at Stow-Munroe Falls High School, with food donations and ticket sales benefiting the North American Indian Cultural Center.
"Since January, we've probably served over 500 families in Summit County with food and other assistance," said NAICC Program Director Cindy Kemp.
Jay Brophy is one of the coordinators. He says the game sets a stage that goes well beyond the game itself. The roster consists of high school football seniors from most schools in Summit County.
"We just know that by bringing the community out together and letting these kids play one last game together that, as a community, it hopefully springboards into more things happening and more donations and more money and whatever we can give, we know it's helping someone who is less fortunate than us," said Brophy.
Kemp says they just gave away 90 turkeys and she says that's the biggest need among Native Americans and others ... food.
"We have a lot of multi-generational families and large families because of the situation with the economy, they're all living together and large families are hard to feed."
Brophy is glad the game has become more popular each year because it helps the core mission.
"We're not out there pushing for bright lights or anything else," said Brophy. "All we want is the community to come together and help support the less fortunate in our area and there's a lot of it."
The NAICC also gives away school supplies and helps in other ways, such as scholarships and job assistance. Kemp says their core recipients are Native American but the organization also reaches out to others.
An Akron man will spend 13 years behind bars for kidnapping and beating a woman.
Prosecutors say 45 year-old John Lewis of Springdale St. had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with the woman for eight years. In August of 2014, Lewis drove the victim to his house where he beat her and dragged her into his house.
The woman tried to escape by jumping from the porch, but she broke her leg in the process. Lewis then carried her to the basement, where he left her for seven hours before calling for help.
A jury found Lewis guilty of multiple charges, including kidnapping, abduction, and domestic violence
The City of Akron has a new Deputy Director of Public Service.
Chris Ludle, who has been the city's Highway Maintenance Superintendent, takes over next week for Phil Montgomery.
Montgomery was appointed the city of Akron's Chief Information Officer after Rick Schmahl took a state job.
Ludle has been in the city's Department of Public Service for 10 years, and spent 12 years at Rubbermaid.
(City of Akron, news release) Mayor Jeff Fusco announced Wednesday the appointment of Chris D. Ludle as the City's new Deputy Director of Public Service, a position recently vacated by Phil Montgomery, who accepted an appointment as the City's Chief Information Officer.
Ludle, who currently serves as the City's Highway Maintenance Superintendent, brings a decade of experience with the Department of Public Service to the position.
Additionally, Ludle's twelve years of experience in the private sector at Rubbermaid will bring a valuable and needed perspective to the service operations that are most important to Akron residents.
"Chris takes a comprehensive, hands-on approach to his work that I greatly admire,"
Mayor Jeff Fusco remarked. "As someone who held the position of Deputy Director of Public Service for 10 years, I know exactly what it takes to do the job. What I see in Chris is the right combination of experience and insight necessary to hit the ground running and shoulder the significant responsibilities of the position."
"Chris's first-hand experience supervising aspects of the CSO project, as well as his substantial management and organizational experience will be an asset to the Director of Public Service's Office and the City," Mayor Fusco added.
Ludle is a lifelong Akron resident, a volunteer Athletic Director and Treasurer at St. Anthony's parish, and a member of the board of the North Akron Baseball Association. Ludle will start December 1, and his salary will be $106,454 per year, the same as the previous Deputy Director of Public Service.
Akron police say they've now solved two of last week's three homicides but the latest announcement does not come with arrests. That's where police, along with the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, are hoping you can help.
Daymond Hooks, 29, and Phillip Key, 32, are wanted in the shooting death of a man outside Centerfold Night Club on East Archwood Avenue. The body of Jerry Stallings, 32, was found outside with a bullet wound to the chest.
Police say Hooks left the bar after getting into a fight with Stallings, then returned and killed him.
Hooks, whose last known address was on 4th Avenue in Akron, is wanted for murder and felonious assault. Key's warrant is for complicity to commit murder. He last lived on Sparhawk Avenue in Akron.