By Laura Lytle
The 73rd annual One World Day will be held on Sunday, September 16 from 11 am–6 pm at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Thousands of children and their families are expected to join in the celebrations from dozens of cultures to educate them about the diverse cultural heritage that makes Cleveland a great city to live in.
“We are focused on ‘peace through mutual understanding’ in our One World Day 2018 activities to showcase that Cleveland’s diversity can lead to peaceful coexistence. We will have many of the same activities as prior years including a naturalization ceremony and outdoor performances for families and visitors to enjoy. The gardens and the cultures each represents will be featured more this year than the stages and entertainment has been in the past,” said Johnny Wu, producer for One World Day.
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation hosts the One World Day among other events throughout the year. However, One World Day is unique because it encourages people to embrace cultural diversity while also experiencing it.
The parade of flags and naturalization ceremony are key features of One World Day. During the parade of flags, people proudly march dressed in native costume to showcase each garden's heritage. In addition to colorful costumes, visitors can also enjoy entertainment, drums and bagpipes.
For more than 10 years, a naturalization ceremony takes place following the parade and is an official oath of citizenship for nearly 30 people representing countries such as Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine among others.
“The naturalization ceremony is one of the most inspiring parts of One World Day,” added Wu.
Most of the gardens will also have planned activities, music and costumes to recognize the culture present in one particular garden. The gardens will also have vendors selling goods, food, and beverages representing their heritage.
“We want to educate visitors about each culture our gardens represent. We had nearly 24,000 people attend One World Day last year, and expect to have as many if not more join us in celebrating our city’s diversity. Our hope is for people to fill their Passport to Peace booklets then go home to explore deeper into these cultures and learn to appreciate them through a better understanding,” said Wu.
Passport to Peace encourages visitors to attend each garden and participate in an activity for a country’s “stamp.” The passport also has a trivia element that teaches people fun facts, history and language from the various cultures. Then once a passport is full, it can be turned in at the main booth for a special free gift.
Adults (21 and over) can also enjoy traditional beers in the German Garden.
One World Day is free for families to attend. Activities will be held across Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park from East Blvd. between Superior Ave. and St. Clair, and along MLK Jr. Blvd.
Free parking is available at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and Cleveland Metroparks. Shuttles will also help visitors arrive and leave One World Day from the north and south ends of the gardens.