In many ways, Canton, Ohio is the heart of professional football. The American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, was founded here in 1920. The legendary Jim Thorpe played his first professional football game with the Canton Bulldogs here. And it was here that a group of citizens—all passionate football fans—campaigned for the city to open the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Just like the game, the Hall has grown steadily in size and popularity over the years, welcoming visitors from around the world. It now occupies 118,000 square feet of space filled with high-tech interactive exhibits, massive photographic murals, and exclusive artifacts. The Hall's Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center features an expansive collection of pro football documents and artifacts. The Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery brings every Super Bowl back to life, and the Other Leagues Gallery showcases the many pro leagues that have at one time challenged the NFL. Although a teletrivia game and call-the-play theater let visitors relive important moments in the sport, the Pro Football Hall of Fame creates its own history as well. Each year during the Enshrinement Festival, the Hall inducts new players, coaches, and contributors into its ranks, and these legends take the stage to deliver rousing and often emotional acceptance speeches. The Pro Football Hall of Fame also fosters the development of future fans and players through its educational outreach programs, including a summer training camp taught by coaching staffs and athletes from local universities. The camp includes lessons on health, nutrition, and proper Gatorade-dousing techniques.
Occupying 45,000 square feet, Adventure Landings encourages youngsters to expend excess energy during open-play sessions, birthday parties, or other special events. Kids and their parents can ricochet across five inflatables, including an outer-space-themed bounce house and an obstacle course, or whizz down a floor-to-ceiling side in the gymnasium. They can also strap into a safety harness and scale the climbing wall, which rewards strategic planning and amateur-yodeling attempts. A toddler play area caters to younger tykes, and an on-site cafe helps keep kids' energy meters fully charged.
The experts at Battleground Lazer Tag can transform almost any location into a laser tag war zone. They set up tactical battle scenarios in backyards, local parks, or other locations of the client's choice for parties that last up to four hours. Party goers arm themselves with a laser weapon and battle for bragging rights in matches with up to 80 players.
The Canton Classic Car Museum exhibits 40 pristine and restored automobiles from yesteryear, which mingle among rare memorabilia pulled from the last two centuries. In one of the decade-focused rooms, a Packard hearse shares floor space with a 1937 bulletproof Studebaker, a car designed to protect policemen from bank robbers and dive-bombing pigeons. Cars like the 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible offset rare and little-known models such as the Holmes, built in Canton and declared possibly America's ugliest car.
Filling the walls and the spaces between the cars, oriental rugs and vintage Tonka trucks mix in with treasures from Canton’s bygone era. A fortune-telling machine from Meyers Lake Amusement Park stands ready to peer into the future, porcelain signs advertise businesses long since closed, and political keepsakes from President McKinley’s term remind viewers of a time when the political machine was focused on keeping outer space from crushing Earth.
Tickets in these sections are first-come, first-serve, so book early for the best seats. Ticket-holders who arrive at 6:30 p.m. will also get to enjoy an informative hour-long discussion of the concert’s lineup of pieces and the fascinating stories behind them.