Each June, visitors to Mill Creek MetroParks come to understand why this unique urban setting has long been referred to as the Green Cathedral. As a recent letter writer put it, being in the park is a religious experience.
Regulars know what Sister Mary Grace Rose Wilkins is talking about, while first-timers watch, hear, touch and feel nature in its glory there.
But why single out the month of June, when Mill Creek Park is a year-round extravaganza?
Because in June 2016, Americans from all 50 states and the island of Puerto Rico and journalists from around the world will converge on Cleveland — a mere 75-minute drive from here — for the Republican National Convention at which the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates will be nominated.
But as recent history of major party conventions has shown, by the time the gavel is banged to open the four-day affair, the GOP standard-bearer and his running mate will have been chosen based on the outcome of the primaries and caucuses.
The days of brokered conventions and smoke-filled backroom deal-making are long gone.
Thus, there’s a lot of time for extracurricular activities, which the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County will be sure to fill.
And that’s where the Mahoning Valley comes in.
This area, albeit strongly Democratic like Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, can make the case for being on the itinerary. It’s an easy luxury bus drive and the first stop, Mill Creek MetroParks, will be the perfect introduction to what was once a leading steel-making region and is now the national template for high-technology manufacturing.
After Mill Creek Park, the conventioneers could tour the Butler Institute of American Art, have lunch and then visit the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor, more commonly known as the Mahoning Valley Steel Museum.
There are many other tourist attractions, but for a real flavor of this quintessential American melting pot, the visitors could stop in at one of the many church festivals that will be in full swing.
FEATHER IN CLEVELAND’S CAP
The Republican National Convention is a feather in the city of Cleveland’s cap. The revitalization of a city that was derisively called the “Mistake on the Lake” is nothing short of miraculous.
From the brand new convention center to the hotels, restaurants, sports complex and, of course, the Vegas-style casino, Cleveland is no longer a second-tier city.
It beat out Dallas for the opportunity to host the national Republican Party, and the $60 million the city is putting up to cover the costs of the convention will be a worthwhile investment. Other cities that have been the sites of national political conventions saw returns of hundreds of millions of dollars.
If there’s one thing convention attendees know how to do well, it’s to spend money. Hotels and restaurants will be jammed from morning to late night, and businesses will benefit.
While this week’s announcement of Cleveland’s selection had Republicans in Ohio brimming with joy, the Democratic mayor, Frank Jackson, and the Democratic county executive of Cuyahoga County, Ed FitzGerald, the party’s nominee for governor in the November general election, are deserving of praise for putting together a bipartisan private-public sector campaign that should serve as an example for other communities.