The first Parade the Circle burst forth onto Jeptha Drive and up the hill to Wade Oval in 1990 as a trial run for the Cleveland Museum of Art’s 75th anniversary in 1991. That first circuitous trek was made by a small but enthusiastic band of some 125 paraders and witnessed by a mere few hundred more. Nonetheless, the seed was sown, and for the celebration of the museum’s anniversary the following year, the number of paraders increased five-fold, showing off before a crowd of 10,000. It was clear that what the museum first imagined as an event solely to celebrate a milestone anniversary was going to become a mainstay of its commitment to community engagement.
Twenty-five years later, Parade the Circle features around 100 ensembles representing 80 schools, churches, and community groups, parading together with professional artists and area families: about 1,500 participants drawing a crowd of more than 75,000. While today’s parade features more sophisticated techniques and materials, the joy of sharing the individual creative visions of area residents, as well as artists local and global, remains unchanged.
This exhibition celebrates Parade the Circle’s 25-year history by showcasing works by artists and community members who have brought their memorable visions to life throughout the years.