Throughout the month of June, Global Cleveland was delighted to join with the City of Cleveland in celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month. Mayor Frank G. Jackson issued a proclamation for Immigrant Heritage Month saluting, “generations of immigrants from every corner of the globe who have built our country’s economy and created the unique character of our nation.”

Mayor Jackson’s words remind me of the many ethnic groups present in Northeast Ohio and their willingness to share their cultures at picnics and festivals that occur throughout the summer.  From polka picnics to church festivals, Cleveland’s unique tapestry of diversity is rolled out again and again under the Cleveland sun.

For me the unofficial start of summer begins with the Greek Church of the Annunciation Festival each Memorial Day weekend.  The dedicated parishioners cook, bake and line-dance their way through the weekend serving thousands of Greek dinners.   As the weeks progress, you will find Lebanese, Egyptian, Italian, German, more Greek, Scandinavian, Latino, Puerto Rican, Irish, and Scottish festivals on calendars.  The Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation’s traditional One World Day Festival, that celebrates many nations on one day, takes place on August 23rd.   Which brings me to the last unofficial weekend of summer—Labor Day weekend.  Then, I indulge my ethnic roots, where dancing a polka or two (or three or more) at another Tremont landmark, St. John Cantius Church’s Polish Festival, has become a tradition.  At least on the dance floor I can work off the delicious pierogi and golabki (stuffed cabbage), so familiar to the cuisine of people of Eastern European heritage.   In Greater Cleveland you can find a nationality picnic, soccer match, festival, or reunion on any weekend.  And only in Cleveland can Immigrant Heritage Month, turn into Immigrant Heritage Months as summertime truly shows “immigrants from every corner of the globe,” celebrating and sharing their cultures.

In July, David Fleshler, Global Cleveland’s Board Chairman, along with Welcome Coordinator Jazmin Long and I will travel to Dayton for WE Global Network 3rd Annual Convening. During the conference, we will have an opportunity to meet with representatives of similar organizations operating in Dayton, Cincinnati, Toledo-Lucas County, Columbus, and other Ohio cities. Sharing ideas and best practices is one more way that Global Cleveland can bolster our community’s and our State’s efforts to become more inclusive and welcoming. Stay tuned for a recap on the conference next month.

In the meantime, all of us at Global Cleveland wish you a safe and sunny Independence Day weekend. As you celebrate this special holiday, we invite you to keep in your thoughts those living around the world that are fighting for the same freedoms that we enjoy every day as residents and citizens of the United States.