For a quarter of a century, Parade the Circle has signaled the arrival of summer in downtown Cleveland. One of the signature events of the season in Northeast Ohio, Parade the Circle includes floats, dancers, live music, stilt-walkers, giant puppets, colorful costumes, vibrant characters, handmade masks and so much more. Last year's 25th anniversary of Parade the Circle drew an estimated 80,000 visitors to University Circle. It included 90 groups, nearly 1,500 participants and lasted nearly three hours.
This year's theme is BEAT: to beat, to breathe, to create. It refers to the beat, or engine of our being. It all takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday June 13 in Wade Oval. The parade begins at noon, rain or shine. It will begin from the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and will move counter-clockwise around Wade Oval.
"Beat, the creative pulse that moves individuals to create, is the theme for Parade the Circle 2015," explains Parade director Robin VanLear. "In particular, this year's Parade celebrates the various and unique beats that inspire Cleveland artists to make our community a more vibrant and exciting place."
This year's participants include national and international artists, as well as local artists, community groups, schools and families.
"To me, the inter-generational nature of Parade is one of its most inspiring characteristics," adds VanLear. "Rather than a children's parade or a more adult oriented event, Parade encompasses art created by and for community members of all ages."
This year's Parade features 32 regional artists, as well as visiting artists from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago. Organizers pair professional artists with community organizations. Featured outreach artists returning this year include Debbie Apple-Presser, Hector Castellanos, Mary Duhigg, Liza Goodell and Ian Petroni.
It is the 18th year of participation for both Debbie Apple-Presser and Hector Castellanos. Apple-Presser is the Parade's outreach coordinator and a seasoned outreach artist. Outreach artists work for ten weeks to help community groups prepare for the Parade; planning the workshops and designing the costumes and other elements. This year, Apple-Presser is working with students and adults at Achievements for the Arts in South Collinwood and an after-school group at Outhwaite Community Center.
Hector Castellanos designed this year's Parade the Circle poster. His first experience with Parade the Circle was as an outreach assistant in the Spanish speaking parts of Tremont. This year, he's working with the Cleveland Public Theatre's Brick City Theatre Group.
"During the last seventeen years, Parade the Circle has been a huge part of my life," explains Castellanos. "No other celebration has had such an impact to bring together so many gifted artists, friends and families to one place to share their creative minds. We can experience and breathe the whole spectrum of what "Diversity" really means, and how proud we are of our cultures."
Mary Duhigg is celebrating her 25th year of participation in Parade the Circle. She will be participating as part of the Abington Arms "Funky Little Village," inspired by the Cleveland Museum of Art's Red Grooms' work, Looking Along Broadway Towards Grace Church, 1981. Ian Petroni is also working with Abington Arms, a mixed-use residence in University Circle, coordinating the ensemble created by art therapy participants. In his 14th Parade, Petroni is also an outreach artist at Urban Community School, an artist in the public workshops and a featured ensemble artist of Parade the Circle.
This will be Liza Goodell's 22nd Parade. She began as a student at Monticello Middle School. She's now participating as a visiting artist from Philadelphia. Her masks and costumes have made a crowd favorite over the years, and her love of the event has led her to co-produce and create artwork for 30 other community parades and performances.
"One of the things that I find most special about Parade the Circle is its diversity," says Goodell. "Within the short list of guidelines, participants are free (and encouraged) to make whatever they dream up. I think its openness is one of the most remarkable things about this parade."
Circle Village offers tents filled with activities, entertainment, food, giveaways and more. Stop by to learn more about a wide variety of area nonprofits and community organizations; many of which are participating in the Parade.
Parade the Circle is just the beginning of a full summer of festivities in University Circle. It started last month with the Hessler Street Fair and continues next week with the CMA's Solstice on Saturday, June 20. At 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday in July, the CMA and Transformer Station continue the celebration of summer with Ohio City Stages; free block parties outside the Transformer Station; featuring global music from international artists on W. 29th Street. In September, the CMA's Chalk Festival will return to University Circle for its 26th year. Visit clevelandart.org for more information.
(Cleveland Museum of Art) 11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7340, clevelandart.org