What Makes Clevelanders so Special?

I love ClevelandMost people are pleasantly surprised on their first visit to our city. This was the case last month when we had a influx of visitors descend on our town for the RNC. Cleveland is prettier than most people would imagine. Our suburbs are filled with beautiful century-old homes on treelined streets–many just a short ride to downtown. The lake is bigger than they thought it would be. No, you cannot see the other side. There’s more culture than they had imagined. Every time I’ve taken someone to our beautiful art museum, they are completely awestruck by our enormous collection of renowned works. But more than anything, it’s the people that makes our city so special. It’s Clevelanders themselves that make people want to stay, that make people daydream about what it might be like to live in our fair city.

Just what makes Clevelanders so special?
Prevention, February, heart health, heart attacks, snow, snowfall, heart health, February, Heart Month, shoveling, prevention, safety, tips from townFirst of all, we’re tough and resilient–emotionally and physically. We know, understand and have endured years of loss and suffering at the hands of our beloved sports teams. Yet, we never give up hope. We endure long, bitter cold winters with wind, ice, power losses and heaps of snow. We shovel, plow and dig our way out just in time for hot, humid summers.

Secondly, we’re loyal and forgiving. Even if you let us down, we will never turn our backs on you. We have endured decades of losing teams but do we allow out hearts to stray? No, we stick behind our town. And if you desert us for a few years and skip off to a warmer climate ( you know who you are–I’m not just talking about the King), we always welcome you back with open arms.

LukeIndians2014SummerCROPThirdly, we are grateful. We are more grateful than any other city I know. We appreciate our wins. We appreciate the rare sunny day (or hour) that we are blessed with in the middle of January. We come together to celebrate our wins and our sunny days through smiles and tears. And when we celebrate, we celebrate big.

Fourthly, we are simply nice, good-natured people. We have manners. We treat people kindly. We have generous spirits. We don’t use sentiments that are over-the-top, hollow and gushy. You’ll never hear us refer to someone as “precious” and we don’t use phrases like “bless your heart”; we say things with sincerity. Don’t be surprised when a Clevelander asks “How are you?” and actually waits for an answer. I truly could use the word “nice” to describe all my friends and family members from Cleveland (especially my mom and dad.) Who can say that…besides other Clevelanders?

I lived in NYC for 16 years and every cab driver I ever had commented on how nice I was. I guess because I didn’t get into their cab and just bark an location–“42nd and 5th!”–without first acknowledging their presence with a simple “hello.” “Where are you from?” they driver often inquired. “Ohio…BUT I’ve lived in the city for 16 years.” “Ah, Ohio,” they’d reply, “People are nice there, aren’t they?” Yes, we are. We are generally warm, friendly, down-to-earth people.

Lastly, Clevelanders do not take themselves too seriously. They will allow a little fun to be poked at them…unless you’re going to bring up the damn burning river again. Or mention “mistake on the lake.” Can we please move on?! Time to get some new material. We laugh at our obsessive passion and loyalty for our teams…no matter how they perform. We laugh while we cry, that is. We joke about our weather. “If you don’t like the weather in Cleveland, give it a minute!” Sun is over-rated! What’s wrong with snow in October and May!?”

Currently, my family and I are back in the NY area…the Jersey part. And there are plenty of nice people here too. Even in the city, people’s exteriors initially can seem tough, but there are lots of soft insides. The Cleveland, Ohio reputation preceded me to Jersey. Plenty of people in NJ are familiar with Ohio’s reputation for ‘growing them nice.’ One mom confided that she suggests to her daughter to “stick with the Ohio people: they’re the nice ones.” That made me feel good about my hometown.

Hopefully, my NJ kids will have a little Ohio in the hearts. With all it’s flaws, I can’t imagine being raised anywhere else.


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Author: Heather Zachariah

Former Art Director for Home Magazine, Heather Leahy Zachariah, left her career in publishing after baby number number one. She now works from home as a freelance graphic designer and a chauffeur to her 3 busy kids. "Working on TipsFromTown has been a wonderful outlet for me. It renewed my love of publishing where I can design colorful, enticing pages online and allows me to share the things I love about being a mom." Heather grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a place that still is near and dear to her. " After living in Brooklyn for 18 years and studying Graphic Design at Pratt Institute, she now lives in the Jersey burbs. "I love living so close to NYC, but in my heart, I'm an Ohio girl."