CINCINNATI — Ahhh, baseball season is here.
We're already dreaming of hot dogs sizzling on the grill, cold beers on sunny afternoons and new bobbleheads to beef up our collections.
Oh, and the game, too (almost forgot to mention that).
We're totally into the spectacle of Opening Day. But truth be told, as far as the rest of the season, we're more interested in all the fun happening off the field at the ballpark than on.
With that in mind, here's a guide to the new season for the more casual Reds fan.
Opening Day/Week festivities
Reds Opening Day is one of those special experiences that Cincinnatians, baseball fans or not, look forward to all year. In recent years, the Reds have turned it into a days-long celebration of the team's first home series. Here are the biggest events to know.
The Block Party: The Queen City’s unofficial holiday kicks off at 11 a.m. April 3 with the Reds Community Fund Charity Block Party, on Joe Nuxhall Way and Freedom Way right outside of Great American Ball Park. The party benefits the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy and includes live music, beer trucks and tents from Anheuser-Busch, LaRosa’s pizza, the Queen City Sausage grill cart and Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine. The party runs through 4 p.m. on Opening Day.
Findlay Market Parade: The 98th Findlay Market Parade will start down Race Street from the market at noon April 3. This year’s parade grand marshal is former Red Sean Casey. The parade will end at the Taft Theatre. Just a reminder, the parade will delay the start of streetcar until it is over.
The ballpark's gates will open at 2:10 p.m., followed by the first pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies at 4:10 p.m.
Kids Opening Day: GABP will show its kid-friendly colors with Kids Opening Day at 1:10 p.m. April 15 in a game versus the Milwaukee Brewers. The day will include a Reds baseball cap giveaway to children 14 years old and younger, a pregame party and parade outside of the ballpark and a red carpet, too.
What's new at the ballpark?
Food: Baseball games often go on for hours, so it's good to know what there is to eat at the ballpark. And this year, there's a lot of delicious new food on the concessions lineup. New offerings include Keystone Bar & Grill’s macaroni and cheese, specialty hot dogs at Porkopolis, a cherry drizzle chicken basket, banh mi and more yummy items. Graeter’s Ice Cream also will be available in Gapper’s Alley starting May 1. Here's a guide to this season's new food -- and photos.
Free concert series: The Avett Brothers, Kaleo and Flo Rida will headline a series of free concerts at the ballpark this season. All that's required is the purchase of a game-day ticket for each concert.
Icelandic alternative rock band Kaleo kicks off the series on May 5, following the Reds' game against the San Francisco Giants and free post-game fireworks. Rapper Flo Rida will perform on Aug. 4 after the Reds' game against the St. Louis Cardinals and more free post-game fireworks. And the three-time Grammy-nominated Avett Brothers will perform Aug. 26 after the Reds game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Theme ticket packages: The Reds also have announced new themed-night ticket packages for this season. The packages include an exclusive giveaway item and ticket to your game of choice within a certain date range.
The first theme package is inspired by FC Cincinnati, with tickets available April 14-16 as the Reds take on the Miami Marlins. The package includes a limited-edition FC Cincinnati and Reds scarf, a 2017 FC Cincinnati game ticket voucher and a ticket of your choice to any of the Reds vs. Marlins games that weekend.
Other themes celebrate the Marvel Comics universe (April 21-23 and June 2-4); "Star Wars" (May 5-6); Margaritaville (July 14); the Peanuts cartoon (July 21-23); Elvis Presley (Aug. 4-5); Oktoberfest (Sept. 15-17); and the Cincinnati Reds' 1975 World Series championship against the Boston Red Sox (Sept. 22-24). For more details about each package visit reds.com.
More bobbleheads and swag
There will be plenty of opportunities to snag some sweet merchandise. “Super Saturdays” return this season with premium items such as bobbleheads, shirts and baseball cap giveaways before each game. And don’t miss “Family Sunday” home games with giveaways for children, mascot races, carnival events and a discount ticket offer: Buy one ticket at full price and get up to three additional tickets at half price. Check out the full schedule of promotional events here.
- The Redlegs Run will take place on May 13 at Great American Ball Park. The 5K and 10K races benefit the Reds Community Fund.
- Pete Rose statue dedication: The public unveiling of the Hit King's statue at Crosley Terrace, in front of Great American Ball Park, will take place June 17 before the Reds 4:10 p.m. game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fans at the game will receive a replica Pete Rose statue.
- “A Night of Their Own” baseball training night for women will take place on June 15.
- Show how much you love that diehard Reds fan in your life by taking them to the Great American Date Night on Aug. 4.
- Want to do yoga on the field? The popular “Sliding into Om” event is scheduled for Aug. 26.
And don't forget the ballpark patio
A visit to the ballpark's Cincinnati Bell Fioptics district with friends is a great option to enjoy the outdoors on a sunny day. The district, which opened in 2016 in sections 408 to 410 on the view level, is made up of drink rails and general seating near the third base line, the craft beer Gigabar, featuring virtual-reality booths, and a rooftop-level patio that overlooks Downtown.
Get Reds-themed paper toys
Download, print and make your very own Gapper paper toy at this link. (ICYMI, you can download paper toy versions of Rosie Red and Mr. Redlegs, too.)