The Day Cleveland, the Cuyahoga River and Cleveland's Sports Fans Merged as One

On June 22 we began our day with our 2nd annual Cuyahoga River walk, an event intended to document the current state of the Cuyahoga River as a counter to the inevitable images people would post as a "reminder" of the 47th anniversary of the 1969 fire (usually using a photo from the 1952 fire, and lately, even the 2010 Deepwater Horizon fire).  A beautiful sunrise greeted us at the edge of Lake Erie and Cleveland was still basking in the glow of an NBA Championship the Cleveland Cavaliers had won just three days earlier. What we didn't realize was, as we poured a ceremonial Great Lakes Brewing Co. Burning River Pale Ale at the confluence of Lake Erie & the Cuyahoga River, as the day unfolded, we would learn much more about the soul of Cleveland and its people.

Our first hint that the day would be EPIC was driving past the Muni Lot on our way to ArcelorMittal and noticing a back-up already starting on Rte. 2 at 6:45 a.m.. Yes, the wave for the Cleveland Cavaliers Championship Parade was already surging into downtown Cleveland. Then we noticed people were parking in areas along the Cuyahoga River where we'd never seen people park before. Radio reports advised how unprecedented numbers of passengers were overwhelming RTA's ability to transport them. so many simply decided to park as close as they could to the parade route and hoof it in to downtown Cleveland. It was truly a pilgrimage of Cleveland's long-suffering sports fans (it had been 52 years since the city had won a pro sports championship) to their Mecca. And they would not be denied their celebration. Cleveland was truly one city that day.

We had a fun time documenting and live-Tweeting the morning's events until cell phone networks, inundated by the surge of callers connecting with their family and pals, browned out. Our Storify of the morning is below.

Our pre-parade stroll of the Cuyahoga River was truly inspiring as we started where the Cuyahoga River meets Lake Erie, then travelled to the head of the Federal Navigation Channel at ArcelorMittal and in between, made stops at the Carter Rd. Bridge, Scranton Flats, West 3rd St. Bridge and the ODOT Innerbelt Bridge site (where we stumbled upon a well hidden duck nest, nature truly find a way!).

Once on the parade route we became part of the celebratory sea of humanity and we stood in awe of: 1) the numbers and 2) the cooperation and friendliness exhibited in every interaction. The parade and civic ride displayed was something one just had to experience in person to appreciate the vibe. When a reported 1.3 million people turn out for a peaceful celebration, the story writes itself. With the Republican National Convention on the horizon, Greater Cleveland has written the script on how to peacefully celebrate a big event. We can't help but think Cleveland's renewed sense of civic pride will come to the fore if outsiders come to Cleveland with the intention to do harm. 

As the parade crawled its way through the city we wandered down to the Flats East Bank where celebrations continued at Alley Cat Oyster Bar, Coastal Taco and the Flats East Bank. We stopped at The Harp for the Cavs parade presentation and a cold one, and then rode back to the river for a birds-eye view of the city where streams of pedestrians, bikes and cars flowed from Cleveland over the Detroit Superior Bridge. We even caught the Jet Express in the distance blasting off to points west.

A trip to Columbus Road and a another cold one at Brick & Barrel made us appreciate how wise our choice was to bring a bike to navigate our way around an at-times gridlocked downtown Cleveland. We also found ourselves in the right place at the right time as Cuyahoga River Restoration invited us to join them on a Brew Boat CLE cruise celebrating the 47th "rebirthday" of the Cuyahoga River (video interview below). The cruise ended near FWD Day + Nightclub where the beat of the river could be heard and felt from a distance. We took a more leisurely ride back up the river and wrapped with a view of the Terminal Tower and the ODOT Innerbelt Bridge blazing in Cleveland Cavaliers colors. What a day for Cleveland, the Cuyahoga River, and Clevelanders. Moses sure would have been proud!