Cleveland's summer kickoff: Parade The Circle on Saturday leads a day of family fun on Wade Oval

Six stages for live music new this year

CLEVELAND - What can we accomplish when we all start working together?

It's a question that artist and performer Robin VanLear has answered with one of Cleveland's unique summer events: Parade the Circle. Presented by the Cleveland Museum of Art, it draws tens of thousands of spectators to Wade Oval each June to view the creative efforts of artists from around the world, local families, schools and community groups. World music, giant puppets, stilt dancers and colorful, animated costumes accompany the floats.

VanLear, who is the museum's Artistic Director for Community Arts, has been fueling the inspiration for the parade through its twenty four year history. Each year there is a theme that ties everything together.

"Sol De Luna Nueva" is this year's theme, and means "sunshine of the new moon." Of course, there's a perfect new moon on Saturday, and it occurs at noon, when the parade begins. That's just one detail in the thought process that goes into pulling something on this scale together. This year, Robin felt inspired by many pieces in the museum's collection.

"I noticed how many artists have been inspired by finding stuff around them and turning it into art. I had this idea, that so much around us we overlook, or put in a recycling bin, we could do more with," she said.

So cereal boxes and beverage cartons wrap the heads of puppets that will tower over the crowd. Their arms and legs will be covered with rippling "feathers" made from recycle and trash bags. These will be part of the parade finale, a "celebration that turns other people's trash into our art." It will be eye popping. And jazzy. The Grammy award winning Rebirth Brass Band of New Orleans will wrap up the parade, and perform later on Saturday at the Beachland Ballroom.

New for Parade the Circle this year are six staging areas along the route for a variety of local bands, and more live music all day long in Circle Village, presented by University Circle Inc.

UCI President Chris Ronayne said "we've got thirty participating institutions, and four concerts after the parade." Circle Village features local food vendors, activities like mask making, showcases life in University Circle.

"It is really becoming a complete neighborhood with housing, a new grocery store, bookstore, and a lot more opportunities than a decade ago here in University Circle," said Ronayne. There are also free shuttles between University Circle and Gordon Square on the west side.

Saturday leads off a full season of summer events, including Wade Oval Wednesdays. This free concert series begins June 12, and happens each Wednesday through Aug. 28 from 6 - 9 p.m. Ronayne sees this as our party in the park, and a home for northeast Ohioans no matter where they live. Every week is different, said Ronayne.

"We'll showcase some of Cleveland's finest bands. From rock to reggae, rhythm and blues to salsa music. Everyone gets into it, the dancing, the food, and going to the museums and institutions." The museums along Wade Oval will remain open until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.

NewsChannel5 is a sponsor of Wade Oval Wednesdays. You can find more details about the free weekly concert series, now in its tenth year, on UCI's website here: http://www.universitycircle.org

More information about Parade the Circle and related events, and the upcoming Summer Solstice at the Cleveland Museum of Art can be found here: http://www.clevelandart.org

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