There was an air of uncertainty hanging over the bus stop as I arrived outside of Shriver. This was the site from which the Miami Mystery Tour Bus would depart, but the amassed people, myself included, didn’t seem to know which of the various buses at the stop was ours.
After asking around, I learned that the general consensus was that ours was the large charter bus at the back of the row. This was confirmed when a woman disembarked, waved us all over and checked our names off of a list one by one.
The relief that we were in the right place was palpable, and after boarding the vehicle, people quickly sat with their friends and began discussing what the evening was going to hold.
The so-called mystery bus left campus at 4:30 and set off toward its destination. Where it was heading was anybody’s guess. Except for the fact that most of the students aboard seemed to know exactly where we were heading.
Whether they pieced it together from the obvious photo of the Great American Ball Park on the event’s advertisement as I had, or figured it out from the various hats and shirts that were worn that bore the distinctive Cincinnati C, it was obvious that this tour was taking us out to the ball game to watch the Cincinnati Reds take on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Despite the fact that most everyone knew our destination, upon arrival, we were greeted by an unexpected surprise. The booths and trucks of Oktoberfest lined the Cincinnati streets, and with over an hour before the game started, we were free to wander the beer-soaked lanes, grab a pretzel or two, and listen to the bands that were scattered throughout the festival.
The students that accompanied me seemed genuinely excited to be here. Most of them had never been on a tour like this before, and they all seemed pretty satisfied with the two-for-one festival/ball game experience.
I wholeheartedly agreed, and after securing a dinner of bratwurst and lemonade, I threaded through the throngs of fair-goers to take in the sights. My favorite band was one at the very back of the festival. The three-man group, dressed in lederhosen and feathered hats, sang traditional German songs that I couldn’t understand, but could certainly tap my foot along to.
As 7:30 approached, I found my way to my seat, four levels above the field, and settled in to watch the game with my fellow Miamians.
The Reds started the game off with an explosive home run from Joey Votto, getting the crowd suitably excited. Shortly after that, the Jumbotron cut to our section, giving us some time on the big screen to flail about and act goofy. I’ve always been a sucker for the spotlight, so this exposé was especially fun.
The Reds slammed in three more home runs, bringing the score to 4-1 and putting them comfortably in the lead over Pittsburgh. By this point, I was reasonably convinced that the home team would achieve a victory, but that didn’t make me root, root, root for them any less.
All around me, my fellow Miamians sat in groups and chatted about the game. It seemed that there were some real baseball fans in the house, as much of the discussion centered around which player was the best, and how the Reds would fare against various other teams.
The scent of popcorn and hot dogs, mixed with the ball park jingles and hum of the crowd, created a warm and inviting atmosphere. To me, there’s something unique about the baseball experience, something nostalgic and familiar that brought up memories of family outings and special occasions. It’s a pleasant feeling, and I found myself wondering why it’d been so long since I’d been to a baseball game.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the spokesman announced that they would be putting up groups on the Jumbotron for special thanks and, lo and behold, “Miami Mystery Bus Tours” adorned the screen.
Between our camera appearance and the shout out, it seemed that Miami was getting ample time on the big screen.
As the eighth inning arrived, the Reds achieved their 11th strikeout of the game, and per stadium rules, everyone in the stands got free pizza.
After the game ended in a 4-2 Reds victory, the stadium put on a fireworks show to celebrate. In recognition of the festival from earlier, the show’s music was Oktoberfest themed, and the fireworks exploded to the tunes of the “Chicken Dance” and “Rock Me Amadeus.”
Over the Ohio River, the luminous fireworks cast glittering reflections across the water’s surface. The impressive spectacle was the cherry on top of a successful game and an entertaining evening.
As fans filed out of the ballpark, the sense of satisfaction that accompanies victory was in the air. Following the surging river of people, we exited the stadium and made our way back to the bus, settling in once more as it sped back toward Oxford.
Although it hadn’t been a very mysterious evening, it had certainly been fun and an experience I can definitely recommend to anyone with a sense of adventure and a free Friday night.
Next month’s tour will be Halloween-themed, so maybe I’ll be back for another, more haunting adventure.