Weston Wride is a top-five Cleveland Cavaliers fan without a doubt.
On June 23, the day after the massive, official parade in downtown Cleveland, Wride, originally from Westlake, OH, threw a 19-person parade (perhaps the smallest parade ever if you don’t count New Orleans’ second lines) in Provo, Utah, nearly 1,800 miles away.
Though Wride’s parade drew press from local and national outlets alike, it was only the latest example of a lifetime of fandom.
Before he had a reason to celebrate, Wride flew back to Cleveland and paid for four seats in the nosebleeds — $350 a clip — for Game 4 of the NBA Finals. If you recall, we lost that game.
The Cavs followed that game with a historic streak of wins, and during that history-making comeback, Wride’s optimism, the optimism only Cleveland sports fans have, was rekindled.
“We always thought, as Clevelanders do, that this could still happen.”
Wride promised himself that he would throw a parade of his own if the Cavaliers ended the 52-year drought and made Cleveland a city of champions again.
We all know what happened next.
On the night of Game 7, Wride, his friends, and family living Utah and Colorado were watching from the living room of his condo near Provo Canyon.
“When they won we just started yelling and screaming and hugging," he says. "Then I went out to the river right behind my place that night and baptized myself and washed myself of all the Cleveland crap that had been going on.”
Wride, like Lebron James, kept his promise. Following the Cavaliers’ historic win over a similarly historic Golden State Warriors, Wride threw a 19-person parade composed of friends, and family. For his parade, Wride spray-painted a ’93 Ford F-150 wine and gold, christening it the “Believemobile.” He purchased insurance for the truck, which was unregistered, the day of the parade, which he did not have a permit to hold. Wride is taking the now-registered and insured Believemobile cross-country to Cleveland for the opening game of the 2016-17 season.
He is calling this pilgrimage “Cleveland is Calling.”
On Oct. 20, Wride is having the first in a series of “Believe rallies,” Cavs themed celebrations, in Provo. From there, a three-car caravan are leaving from Provo for Cleveland to attend the opening game of the season against the New York Knicks on Oct 25. But a journey is about deviations from the beaten, well-traveled path, right?
On the way, he is stopping in a different city each day to hold a rally for Cleveland sports-lovers who no longer live in Cleveland. Cities on the itinerary: Provo, Denver, Lincoln, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Cleveland of course. Wride estimates a 1,883-mile-long parade (or 376.6 miles/day), making this possibly both the longest and the fastest parade ever.
At 6 p.m. on Aug. 12, Wride started a Kickstarter to fund Cleveland is Calling. The goal is $16,500 dollars, and after only a few days Wride has made about a tenth of that amount. Much of the money will go to making the road trip possible—cost of repairs on the truck which has a leaky windshield, and food and lodging—as well as funding for an e-book he hopes to release on Cleveland sports fans’ experiences.
“We want to capture the beautiful stories of people who moved away from Cleveland three years ago, 33 years ago, whenever...our stories aren’t being captured enough.”
Many have made small donations of less than $10 to the Kickstarter, while others have pledged hundreds of dollars. Though incredibly grateful, Wride is more of a happy medium kind of guy and has incentivized donations at incremental amounts.
“The two levels in-between are the tangible rewards—for $35 you get a Cleveland is Calling car window flag, for $50 you get a flag and the shirt.”
He has also sought corporate sponsorship with the Cavaliers organization and others. Following the parade in late June, Wride met with a higher-up in the organization, whom he chose not to name, in pursuit of funding for the cross-country trip.
The spirit of the journey: “I want to mobilize, honor, document anyone who been connected and held faithful to Cleveland along the way.”
While some plans remain tentative (events in the stops along the way) and others ostensible (the fate of the Believemobile), Wride promises adventure.
“This is very new and very envisioned at the same time.”
Check Wride’s Facebook and Twitter page for developments, and visit his Kickstarter page to pledge.