UH Memorial Day parade to go big

Robin VanLear is helping the University Heights Memorial Day parade go bigger and better this year.

The University Heights Memorial Day parade has traditionally been the biggest and best parade of its kind in Northeast Ohio. But that doesn’t mean planners will coast on its reputation. This year’s parade will have additions—big additions.

“I’ve always loved the artistry and creativity of Parade the Circle, and ever since I took office, I wanted to bring that vibe to our parade,” said University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan. “The giant puppets, the costumes, the whimsical spirit.”

Instead of trying to figure out how Parade the Circle created that spirit, Brennan went straight to the source—its founder, Robin VanLear.

For the first time, VanLear is working with the University Heights Parade Committee. She will be responsible for coordinating with community groups, and—yes—bringing giant puppets to the city's parade.

“Robin is amazing, and what she does is truly unique,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, the city’s coordinator for special projects. “Many people are familiar with the creative puppets, costumes, and pageantry of Parade the Circle—and that’s Robin. She created the event and oversaw it for over 30 years.”

“Robin VanLear’s influence on our parade will be fresh and fun,” Brennan said.

“Her specialty is working with community members and the materials they have to create incredible works of art,” Bremer Fisher said. “We are fortunate to have an artist of her caliber in our community and be able to work with her to enhance our parade this year.”

The parade will step off at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day—Monday, May 29. Due to construction at John Carroll University (JCU), the parade will have a slightly different route, ending at Gearity Professional Development School instead of on the JCU campus.

“Resilience” will be the theme of the 2023 Memorial Day Parade. “Robin came up with several initial concepts that University Heights organizations are building off of in their own way,” Bremer Fisher said.

After the parade, a memorial service will be held at Gearity.

“On Memorial Day in University Heights, we remember those who died in service to our country,” Brennan said. “But we also celebrate the freedoms they left behind for us to enjoy. The ceremony is solemn, the parade is fun, and it’s the official start of summer.”

Mike Cook

Mike Cook is the communications and civic engagement director for University Heights.

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 1:59 PM, 05.01.2023