Just as the feel-good afterglow from the Cavs NBA Championship and the humongous championship parade was beginning to subside, Cleveland finds itself again at the epicenter of national and international interest as the Republican National Convention rolls into town July 18-21.
In the days and weeks after that epic Cavs week, one could sense a renewed sense of civic pride, a feeling that Cleveland had finally tossed aside accumulated memories rooted in 52 years of frustration since Cleveland's last professional sports championship in 1964. Anyone who was in the reported 1.3 million throng of Cavs parade celebrants can attest to a relaxed, tension-free day redolent with the spirit of cooperation and pride. Cleveland was happy. Really really happy.
Rewind two years to July 8, 2014 when the Republican National Committee chose Cleveland (over Dallas) to host the 2016 Republic National Convention. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said "We couldn't be more excited. I think that it's a city on the rise. If you haven't been to Cleveland lately, its a real surprise how beautiful it is down by the lake".
However visions of a positive national spotlight for a resurgent Cleveland have been clouded by concerns that a polarizing candidate will serve as a lighting rod for political dissent. This stands in stark contrast to the successful 2012 RNC held in another waterfront city, Tampa FL. As one "frustrated" protester said "What the (expletive) do you have to do to get arrested in this town?'
Cleveland showed the world that it would not trash its city in the aftermath of the Cavs' game 7 victory and during the championship parade the following Wednesday. And there is a growing sense and conviction that, if there is trouble related to RNC protests, it will come from individuals and groups who are not from Cleveland. Cleveland's spirit of renewal and positive energy will be tested.
Against that backdrop, an idea came to Sister Rita Petruziello, a member of the Community of the Sisters of St. Joseph, for a peaceful, non-denominational gathering to set the tone for the coming week and Circle the City With Love was born. "Everyone will bring their own concept of that positive energy to the bridge" said Sister Rita. We caught up with a very busy Sister Rita yesterday for an extended conversation on the idea behind Circle the City With Love that will take place on the Hope Memorial Bridge (formerly the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge) spanning the Cuyahoga River. Spend a few minutes with her and we think you'll totally get the vibe she's tapping into.
Circle the City With Love will be on Sunday, July 17, 2016 starting at 1 p.m. at Saint Ignatius High School and the event website is www.circlecitywithlove.com/. We share Sister Rita's sense of optimism for Cleveland and the coming RNC week. Two days after the Cavs win we felt a similar vibe and we called our shot. Cleveland, the tomorrow you've been preparing for is here today. Now let's show the world.
Sister Rita's brother Joe penned and performed this song to inspire folks to come out for Sunday's Circle the City With Love.