By Bruce Checefsky

Parade the Circle returns to the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and Wade Oval on Saturday, June 10th at 12 p.m.

One of Cleveland’s most colorful cultural events is an annual art parade for individuals, families, schools, and neighborhood and community groups that fills Wade Oval with live music, innovative costumes, giant puppets, and handmade masks. The 31st annual event returns this year following a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cleveland visual artist Héctor Castellanos-Lara will lead the Parade, featuring a theme of TRANSFORMATION (Dragonfly ǀ Libélula), a symbolic reminder that change is needed to grow. Inspired by images from Guatemala of his youth, Castellanos-Lara uses the vibrant colors of his native Central America to create works that reflect his heritage. His early influences included his father, a well-known commercial painter, especially in political murals from the 1950s through the 1970s. His mother, a dressmaker who drew inspiration from the folk art of Guatemala, also influenced him.

As a community lead, artist, and organizer, Castellanos-Lara works with diverse populations to cross borders and is a co-founder of ALU (Artistas Latinos Unidos) and the Artistic Director of Día de Muertos Ohio (Day of the Dead).

“The dragonfly, or libélula, holds spiritual symbolism with people of many cultures across the world, and after 300 million years, this fascinating insect still coexists with us. The dragonfly life cycle represents transformation or change,” said Castellanos-Lara. “Let the dragonfly serve as a reminder that we all need a change in our lives to grow, self-reflect, and adapt to any environment or circumstance we may face.”

The event began in 1990 as a community-outreach experiment by the Art museum to mark its 75th anniversary by hosting a nontraditional parade with people-powered floats, giant puppets, and ordinary folks walking around in homemade costumes. A few hundred people showed up in the crowd. By 1998, parade participants marched for 40,000 attendees and expect to draw a crowd of over 80,000 this year. Hundreds of individuals and groups from area schools, clubs, and families have the opportunity to work with professional artists and learn art-making leading up to the Parade. People travel to Cleveland to participate, including international artists from across the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and beyond.

Colleen Russell-Criste, Cleveland Museum of Art deputy director and chief philanthropy officer, said the event takes about six months to plan.

Parade the Circle begins at noon from the CMA and will proceed around Wade Oval. Visitors can participate in Circle Village from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Food vendors include Bailey’s Boardwalk Fries, Pop Culture CLE, Kernels by Chrissie, Beckham’s B&M BBQ, Rascal House Pizza, and Glacier Concessions.

Prepaid parking in the CMA garage is not available on this day. A special event parking rate of $20 will apply. Public Transportation is available to University Circle by RTA’s HealthLine, Red Line, and eight bus lines.