Young and old embraced the new Solon Home Days theme, without rides but with a community feel, as the three-day event last weekend opened under bright sunny skies.

Solon resident Colleen Tsironis said she was enjoying the quiet of the new atmosphere, where neighbors and friends gathered for what was considered a giant block party.

“I’m seeing neighbors and old friends and people I haven’t seen all summer,” Ms. Tsironis said during the opening day on July 26.

“It’s so nice to have the community coming together like this for something fun,” added Carol Rendon of Solon. She and her children were looking forward to exploring the offerings including a 300-foot zip line and variety of bouncy houses.

Taking one of the first rides of the night on the zip line was Mayor Edward H. Kraus who deemed it awesome.

“I always felt we wanted to do things with a community feel,” Mayor Kraus said of the new theme. “The rides were nice but now we have good music and lots of fun for kids. At the end of the day, it’s for Solon, and we want to have our residents happy.”

Throughout the evening, families perused numerous offerings, including stops at the Crooked Kettle Popcorn Co. for their famous kettle corn, a favorite of Glenwillow resident Jenaye Andrews, 18.

“Food!” she said of her favorite draw to Home Days, especially the kettle corn.

Ms. Andrews added that she holds fond memories of past Home Days when she won her goldfish “Sherman” and “Chester.”

In addition to the variety of games, there was a plethora of activities throughout the weekend, as well as special events like the annual corn hole tournament sponsored by the Solon Italian Club; 3 point shooting contests; and soccer dart, field goal kick and closest to the pin contest.

Summer breezes continued throughout Saturday and Sunday’s artisans and crafters handmade market, similar to last fall’s Pop up in the Park and offerings at the Fall Festival.

There was a DJ for a community dance party, and kids took part in face painting, crafts, backyard games, story time and meet and greet with the princess on the patio, as well as a petting zoo.

Seven-year-old Nathan Klotzman of Solon was making his way to the Ninja course, as seen on TV shows, and looked forward to playing games, he said.

“It’s so fun to just bring the kids up,” added Nathan’s father Evan. Mr. Klotzman, a 2002 graduate of Solon High School, said he would be participating in the Alumni Home Run Derby and softball game.

“This weekend is going to be great,” said Solon resident Patty Holub, wife of Community Center Director Donald W. Holub.

Her husband agreed.

“I think this will be less stressful for us,” Mr. Holub said of the recreation department. “We just want to make it more community based.

“This is just more relaxing for people,” Mr. Holub added.

He was readying the corn hole tournament, which drew seven teams. Prizes for winners included colorful corn hole boards.

Home Days still had its staples, such as the pancake breakfast, 5K race, food trucks, beer and wine tent, parade, movie in the park, touch-a-truck and more.

There was also a synthetic ice rink which drew a large group of youngsters, as well as a cultural garden, live music and Solon Center for the Arts crafts.

Sunday’s parade drew local celebrities like Cleveland Indians mascot Slider, driven in a convertible Corvette, as well as a surprise appearance from Skipper, mascot of the Lake County Captains.

“I just hope everyone comes and has a good time,” Community Center Program/Banquet Manager E. David Peleg said, heading into last Friday’s opening night. “We work hard to make it great for the community.”

“Home Days had a real neighborhood feel to it,” Sandra Pannetti, a member of the Solon Benevolent Fund, said. “Everyone was having a great time, and the Rec department and Mayor Kraus did an outstanding job.”

Mrs. Pannetti said the SBF, which presents its annual raffle each Home Days, is all about helping neighbors.

“The board is grateful for the support by the community in making donations to the raffle, purchasing tickets or bidding on the silent auction items,” she added. “All the proceeds benefit the community through SBF’s assistance.”

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