Reds Opening Day fans push to make it an official holiday

CINCINNATI - A new proposal to turn the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day into an official "ceremonial" holiday in the city of Cincinnati would not mean more overtime or an extra day off for city or private workers.

Cincinnati City Councilmember Wendell Young says the holiday proposal he is presenting is just a statement of "civic pride" in both the Cincinnati Reds and the 135-year old Opening Day tradition in Cincinnati.

Young presented the idea to his fellow councilmembers and the Governmental Operations Committee after holding a 10 a.m. news conference Thursday at Cincinnati City Hall.

He was joined by members of the "Make It Official" Coalition, which has been pushing the proposal for the last few months. The coalition tried to get enough valid signatures of city voters to get the measure on the November ballot but failed. Members said plenty of people wanted to sign but most were from out of town or out of state and were not eligible.

"If you ask bosses around town, Opening Day sees more cases of 'sick' people than any other day of the year," said Michael Schuster, founder of the "Make It Official" coalition and president of MSA Architects. "Opening Day is our Mardi Gras."

Councilmember Young says the Cincinnati Reds have gone over a century without official recognition from city government of the value of Opening Day festivities like the Findlay Market Parade and the Opening Day game rallies at Fountain Square.

They say it will encourage businesses in the city to do more to promote and have their workers participate in Opening Day activities like the parade and pre-game rallies.

However, Cincinnati doesn't have the power to mandate that private businesses give workers the day off with pay or overtime. Opening Day holiday supporters say their proposal won't cost the city or any businesses a dime because it has no mandates, like a federal holiday.

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