Who are the Friends of Cain Park?
I joined the board of Friends of Cain Park (FOCP) in 1994, three years after the group was founded by Chessie Bleick. After a couple of years, I made the mistake of missing one meeting. At that meeting, I was elected president of the board. Now, apparently, I am president-for-life. That has served as a good incentive for other members to attend meetings. But, of course, it’s a worthy endeavor and Cain Park is one of my favorite places in the region.
People often ask us what FOCP is and does. The first thing you need to know, because there’s often confusion about this, is that we are not Cain Park. That is, we don’t book the shows or sell tickets to the shows or perform any official function there. But, we do help support Cain Park. Friends of Cain Park is a non-profit all-volunteer support group that works to raise funds for and awareness of the park. We have about 200 members every summer, including the 10-person board of trustees.
We provide funds for such things as: concerts at Cain Park, some of which are presented free to the community, and many family-friendly shows; two or three $1,000 scholarships to graduating Cleveland Heights High School students each year – in the areas of visual, musical and performing arts — to help the students continue their studies in those fields; the Artists’ Award at the annual Cain Park Arts Festival; the Friends of Cain Park “Good Friend of the Arts” Award, presented to people who have made significant contributions to the local arts scene; and the beautiful brass plaques that are on several of the park's buildings, containing brief histories of each structure.
We raise funds through the sale of memberships to Friends of Cain Park; the sale of engraved bricks in the Cain Park Memory Path (in the courtyard near the main box office); an almost-annual benefit dinner and concert during the Cain Park season; a raffle during the Cain Park season (this year it will be a 50/50 raffle held during the Arts Festival weekend); and the sale of bottled water at our booth during the Arts Festival.
Why do people join Friends of Cain Park? We’d like to think it’s because everyone just wants to support the park and make sure it keeps going forever. But, we know that the main reason most people join is to get the best seats in the house to Cain Park shows. We have about 200 seats in the first few rows reserved for our members (on a first-come, first-served basis), so members can request those seats when they buy tickets. This year we are honored to have been selected by the Whole Foods Market at Cedar Center to have a Friends of Cain Park Day there. On May 21, Whole Foods is donating five percent of its profits for the day to FOCP. If you’re thinking of shopping for food ever again in your life, we at FOCP think that May 21 might be a good day to do that, and that Whole Foods might be a good place to do it. Just a suggestion.
And if you’d like to join FOCP while shopping at Whole Foods on May 21, we’ll have a table where you can sign up. We’ll also have a table at Cain Park where you can sign up on the days the box office opens for this season –Saturday, May 24, for Cleveland Heights residents, and Saturday, May 31, for everybody. For more information about the Friends of Cain Park, call 791-5149 or 229-4516.
David Budin is a freelance writer living in Cleveland Heights. Note corrected box office dates [updated from print version]