August 30, 2014

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Downtown rally unifies Northeast Ohio

CLEVELAND — Whether the Cavs win or lose the NBA Finals, they’ve already done something that might be even more astounding — made the entire Northeast Ohio community “Rise Up” as one.
That fact was on pulsating display Tuesday afternoon when more than 1,000 people crowded into downtown Cleveland’s Mall B square for a Cavs rally. Fans from Youngstown to Sandusky, and from as far away as Columbus and St. Louis, spilled onto the rectangular green lawn near City Hall to eat food prepared on site and scream as an emcee prognosticated a win in Tuesday night’s game.
Most of the crowd worked in offices downtown and spent their lunch hour there, with men in full business suits donning Cavalier headbands and women in dress clothing waving “Rise Up” posters high above their heads. Others drove to attend Tuesday’s game or took the day off work to cheer on the team.
Allison Quinn of North Ridgeville walked a few blocks from the investment firm where she works to celebrate with other fans.
“This is great to be a part of it. It’s so exciting,” she said. “It’s great to see Cleveland coming together. It’s such a great thing for Cleveland, not just the Cavs.”
Just about everyone was decked out in Cavs apparel, which many people said they bought from the Cavaliers Team Shop at Quicken Loans Arena that morning. Although several blocks away from the rally, The Q was just as electric, with excited fans taking pictures in front of the giant gold Larry O’Brien Championship trophy set up at the corner of Ontario Street and Huron Road.
In a speech at the rally, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson thanked everyone for coming together as a united Greater Cleveland.
“I’ve lived here all my life, and the Cavs have brought us together in a way I haven’t seen in a long time,” he said.
Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry, who handed Jackson his own Cavs jersey with the mayor’s last name on it, said he, too, was excited about how fans have come together.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I appreciate this support from all these communities in Northeast Ohio,” he said. “The support you guys have shown has been unbelievable.”
Aside from the music and food, entertainment also included a dunking booth, Cavaliers mascot Moondog riling up fans from a stage and the Cavalier Girls dance team passing out “Rise Up” towels.
“We’re here because it’s exciting. How often does this happen?” said Avon resident Dawn Enovitch, who walked about a dozen blocks from her office with two co-workers for the party.
Mike Walker of North Ridgeville works at night and took his two children, ages 2 and 4, to meet their mother for lunch at the rally.
“I came up here to support the Cavs,” he said. “This is great what’s happening.”
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.

061307moondog.jpgchuck humel / chronicle photos
Cleveland Cavaliers mascot Moondog exhorts the crowd at a rally Tuesday on Mall B in downtown Cleveland. The Scream Team dancers are in the blue camouflage T-shirts.