Cleveland ranks almost last in 'happiest cities' list. It's time to defend the land that we love

CLEVELAND - When a person talks badly about something you love, it's difficult to not defend the very thing you hold dear to your heart.

In this case, WalletHub ranked Cleveland at the bottom of the 'happiest cities in America'. When I say bottom, I mean almost dead last, coming in 149th place in a list of 150 cities. 

Growing up in Cleveland, my 26-year-old self has seen the city transform beyond the superficial and negative identities and rankings placed upon us by the rest of country.

If you look past the mistakes made by city government and officials, the trenches we call potholes, and the unpredictable weather, Cleveland is a city that can give everyone a chance to make it, while also pushing the envelope to never settle for anything less than greatness.

Here are five reasons why Cleveland is #1 on my list:

1. We are family. 

When it comes to sticking together during good times and bad, Clevelanders are the most loyal in the land. Rich in cultural heritage and history, Cleveland continues to be the melting pot for immigrants—past and present—and with that our city is a reflection of the diversity. Little Italy, Slavic Village, AsiaTown are just a few pockets of ethnic diversity in Cleveland neighborhoods. Welcoming new skills, new language, and new talent is the underlining approach that makes our city different than our neighbors.

2. All about the water.

Cleveland is one of the few cities that is lucky enough to have a body of freshwater at its fingertips. Even among locals, Lake Erie is underestimated in its beauty and its offerings. Once the weather starts to act 'normal', a weekend getaway to the island (Kelleys Island, Middle Bass Island, and Put-in-Bay Island) can take you out of the concrete jungle and into peace and serenity. Beaches have improved in terms of cleanliness in recent years.

3. Hungry? Thirsty? Cleveland gets you.

What is one thing that everyone loves? It's food. Over the last several years, the food industry, from restaurants to breweries, are popping up faster than seasons change. I credit the restaurant industry for Cleveland's comeback. Food has put us in the national spotlight and that is here to stay. Bring it on New York, California, and other "foodie" places.

4. Be proud and humble

When Cleveland got the bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, naysayers thought our city couldn't host the 50,000 people expected to arrive in our city. Man, were they wrong. Not only did we host the RNC, but visitors, politicians, and other media had nothing but positive remarks about Cleveland.

We have world-renowned institutions such as the Cleveland Museum of Art, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a number of universities and other entertainment venues that often get overlooked when Cleveland is mentioned about its past. It's time to look to the future and let our city speak for itself.

5. Sports. The undying loyalty and genuine love.

I will be the first person to admit that sports aren't my specialty or even first interest. But when a Cleveland sports team makes it to a Finals or the World Series, I quickly find myself becoming a number one fan. When the Cavs won the 2016 NBA Finals, Cleveland thought it struck gold and the whole city rejoiced for weeks after. The Indians making it to the World Series was a moment that seemed too good to be true. Despite losses and wins, Clevelanders have the city and the sports teams on their back. Through thick and thin, there will always be a cheering fan in the stands.

Kaylyn Hlavaty covers news that's all about the pride we share in Cleveland. Have a story tip or idea? Drop her a line at kaylyn.hlavaty@wews.com or connect on Twitter: @kaylynhlavaty.

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