I have lived the majority of my life in your suburbs. I am happy to see my city being celebrated in the national media. We have been mocked in cartoons and hack comedic bits for longer than I have been alive. Moments that occurred decades ago have haunted our legacy. The absence of a major national sports championship has wounded our reputation. Economic downfall and difficult statistics have put a stain on our good name. Tonight, the spotlight is cast here for a different reason.
Lebron James, who broke the hearts of millions by leaving our side to win a championship in the most public and reckless manner, has returned and boosted the confidence of northeast Ohio. While I am no expert on basketball, or even a casual fan, I am excited to watch this season and see the enthusiasm of a fan-base like I’ve never witnessed. I understand that the return of Lebron means incredible amounts of money will be pumped into our area at a time when we need it most. For that, I am truly thankful to Mr. James.
I only hope that, as a city, Cleveland realizes that they did so much in his absence. We have become known as one of the most exciting destinations in the country for our culinary artists and multi-cultural food scene. Areas of the city, once condemned have seen revitalization at the hands of forward thinking developers. From Ohio City, Tremont, Gordon Square, Midtown, E. 4th and the Theatre District to the best suburbs in the country, such as my home-base of Lakewood, our metropolitan area is booming with places to go, things to see and people to meet. As a professional musician, it is actually very challenging to compete with so many other things to do in this city on any given night.
Look at Mahalls 20 Lanes, a bowling alley and bar in Lakewood that no one would have expected to become a leading venue in original music and the home to a wonderful music festival. Our hometown chefs Michael Symon, Jonathan Sawyer and MELT founder Matt Fish have given us all stuff to brag about to our friends in other cities who watch the Food network.
Our beautiful city architecture is on display in numerous high profile movies that have chosen Cleveland as their main hub of filming. Our local bands, artist and authors have continued to make national headlines. Our city organizations, such as the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, have organized fun events, like Walnut Wednesday, the shows on Edgewater Beach, the festivals in University Circle and on Whiskey Island.
I love this city. I love my neighborhood. I want to see us win. But this has been a team effort, maybe Lebron is more our Captain than our King.