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Thousands turn out for Clevelands 21st annual Parade the Circle
This years theme: Opening the Doors to new experiences
By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

CLEVELAND: While the world is paying attention to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup Soccer/Ftbol Tournaments, Cleveland opened its doors to artists from Western Africa, the Caribbean as well as other international, national and local artists for its 21st annual Parade the Circle and Circle Village.

Mayfield Middle School students march as the characters in Alice in Wonderland

Giant puppets and stilt-dancers towering over 18 feet tall, colorful floats and musicians playing their drums or saxophones marched in the parade around the Wade Oval in the University Circle as tens of thousands lined up to watch, Saturday, June 12, 2010.

The multicultural parade, organized by The Cleveland Museum of Art, is a big-scale, outdoor, living art gallery - an opportunity for the community to showcase its artistic creativity.

I believe in the power of art to do lots of things, to unite a community, to heal, to inspire, said the parades artistic director, Robin VanLear. What I hope is that some of all those things happen here. That the people here are happy and feel good about their city.

This years theme was about opening the door to new cultural experiences.

In addition to the parade, the Circle Village event, organized by University Circle Inc., also on the Wade Oval provided hands-on activities for children and the whole family including a puppet show, painting and crafts, entertainment on two stages, a wide variety of food, and featured dozens of local non-profit organizations.

Organizers estimate over 60,000 or 70,000 people attended the Saturday events.

This years parade comes as The Cleveland Museum of Art is preparing to unveil four newly renovated galleries in its 1916 building on the lower level that will showcase Ancient art from the Near East, Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Byzantine Empire, from the European Middle Ages and the sub-Saharan Africa.

VanLear said the renovation of the four galleries is part of the museums $350 million project to renovate the entire museum including adding new offices and new wings to the buildingan 8-year-old project, estimated to be complete in 2012.

The sky was the limit for the imagination of the roughly 2,000 parade participants who marched with home-made animal or colorful costumes and even masks, human-powered floats and a variety of props.

A 10-foot-tall bird on wheels, called The Phoenix, made an appearance in the parade. The bird, created by a Cleveland Clinic doctor, was made from the clear plastic packaging of medical supplies. And a couple, Amy Frank and Sean Hensley, just recently married that Saturday morning, marched in the parade with their wedding party of 50.

New this summer was more African artists that showcased the continents music, dance, and artwork.

Almost a dozen artists participated from Burkina Faso, a country in Western Africa.

Yacouba Bonde, a master sculptor, mask maker and artistic director of the village of Boni, Burkina Faso, led the African artists group Troupe des Masques de Boni as they marched with their musical instruments and masks.

Robin VanLear, the parades artistic director, marched on stilts for the parades finale

The parades finale and other floats showcased the artwork of the Bwa people - a group in Central Burkina Faso known for producing impressive plank masks and wooden sculptures.

Roughly half a dozen participants and VanLear marched on stilts for the parades grand finale as the Caribbean band Panic Steel Ensemble followed playing their home-made oil drums made from barrels aboard a float. Panics members are from the Central American islands of Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and also from the U.S.

One member of Panic, who called himself Fats, described his Caribbean music, Super. He said the band has been playing for four years and will perform every Wednesday this summer throughout Cleveland.

Teresa Rivas, visiting from Barcelona, Spain, was dancing to Panics melody after the parade.

She said it was her first time visiting Parade the Circle but was enjoying it so much she plans to participate in the parade next year.

Everything is so wonderful, Rivas said I love the music, how its a family event.

Latino artists included Hector Castellanos Lara of Ecuador who marched with the Cleveland Public Library, and the Huntington Road Neighbors featured a float titled in Spanish Abre la puerta. Abre la boca!, meaning Open the door. Open your mouth, to emphasize you are who you say you are.

Other guests also enjoyed the festivities despite the ominous clouds that briefly threatened to rain, the high humidity and over 80 degree muggy weather.

Muriel Robinson, from Cleveland and a volunteer for the organization Extended Family and Friends, has attended the parade for three years; last year, she marched in the parade.

I loved the colors that everybody used, the music was great. It was very unique, she said, as she sat watching the parade with her brother-n-law and sister-n-law, two sons and niece of ages 5, 6, and 9.

Rachel Borup was visiting from Salt Lake City, Utah, and watching the parade for the first time with a family friend, and four children ages 4 to 11.

I liked that there was nothing corporate-sponsored; it was all home-made costumes and local groups, Yenan Zhu, a sophmore biology major at Case Western Reserve University, was also seeing the parade for the first time.

It was very artistic and unique. I liked the expression of different cultures, he said. It was one interesting experience.


See the Cleveland Museum of Arts latest events by visiting http://www.clevelandart.org

University Circle is organizing its WOW free concert series and will feature a new concert in the University Circle every Wednesday this summer until the end of August.

For more information see their web site: http://www.universitycircle.org

See La Prensas video coverage of Parade the Circle by visiting http://www.youtube.com/user/LaPrensaWeekly



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