Downtown Cleveland celebrates Cavaliers’ history-making victory

Twelve-year-old Seth Deluise of Cleveland, Ohio, holds up a sign he found on the ground at the Cavaliers’ victory parade in downtown Cleveland on Wednesday, June 22, 2016.

Alex Delaney-Gesing

As an estimated 1.3 million people flooded the streets of downtown Cleveland for the Cavaliers’ NBA Championship homecoming parade Wednesday, an overwhelming surge of pride could be seen and heard throughout the city.

“This means everything,” said Josh McFarland, an attendee of the parade and self-proclaimed, lifelong Cavs fan from Madison. “There’s been lots of lost seasons we’ve had and now it’s all about validation; definitely worth the wait.”

After coming back from a 3-1 deficit this season and winning 93-89 against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, the Cavs ended the 52-year “drought” that has plagued the city since the Browns football team won the 1964 Super Bowl.

The celebratory parade kicked off in the late morning on E. 6th Street near the Quicken Loans Arena before heading north on Huron Road, and ending on E. 6th Street via Lakeside Avenue.

Fans of all ages populated nearly every surface of sidewalks and streets along the celebratory route.

Decked out in the classic Cavs colors of wine and gold, as well as the original shades of navy, burnt orange and white, hordes of fans created a mass of color that stood out as stark contrasts against the black pavement.

Spectators lined streets, sidewalks, rooftops of all structures and even the sides of buildings, just to catch a glimpse of the parade procession.

Born well after the last Cleveland championship, 45-year-old Tara Kafides, of Akron—along with her husband—knew the celebration could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’m just so proud of the team for what they’ve accomplished,” she said. “This is an experience that I just couldn’t pass up.”

Sixteen-year-old Megan Richards, of Brecksville, watched the parade with friends and family. A dedicated Cavs fan, she said she’s seen all the Cavs games for as long as she can remember.

“This championship and parade mean a lot to the city,” she said. “I mean, once LeBron (James) came … he’s honestly just been so good to us; it’s very rewarding.

Similarly, Olivia Orendorf—also 16 and from Brecksville—said the already-present “Believeland” spirit has only been enhanced by the Cavs’ accomplishments.

“Personally, I think we have the best fans in the world,” Orendorf said, “so it’s good that the championship has been able to show just how dedicated we are.”

Following the parade, LeBron James and the rest of the basketball team attended a rally held at Mall B in their honor.

During his speech, LeBron thanked the city for their relentless support and faith in the team, as well as the individual team members.

Post-parade and rally, fans continued the celebration into the night, still riding the exhilarating high of the day’s festivities.

“It feels like we’re finally being rewarded for sticking with Cleveland sports for all these years,” said Joe McFarland, a Madison resident. “Today was everything it should have been and what I hoped it would be.”

Alex Delaney-Gesing is the editor of The Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]