Founded in 1921, Cleveland Heights is gearing up for its 100th anniversary next year.
As an inner-ring suburb, the city is known for its community-like attributes, and diverse resident and business populations.
According to Mayor Jason Stein, the centennial is a testament to the city’s perseverance and positive qualities.
“Cleveland Heights has a history of being a welcoming city, priding itself on our diversity, wonderful neighborhoods and a strong sense of community,” he said. “We offer many wonderful things for people looking to buy a home, shop dine or play. As we prepare to celebrate our 100th anniversary next year, we pledge to continue embracing our values, our differences and everything that makes our city so special.”
Leading up to the centennial, leadership rolled out a new citywide initiative in September: “All Are Welcome.”
Mary Trupo, Cleveland Heights’ director of communications and public engagement, said plans originally called for the initiative to go into effect earlier in the year, but pandemic-related issues pushed it back.
“As we enter the final months of 2020, we thought it was a good time to get out there with a preview of the anniversary,” she told the Cleveland Jewish News. “It is really an economic development-type initiative. We want people around the region to realize what makes the city so special. So when it comes time to buy a house, visit restaurants, shop or start a business, Cleveland Heights will be top of mind.”
The purpose of “All Are Welcome” is to give residents something to feel proud of, especially during a time where that might be difficult, Trupo said.
“This is something that all the residents can hold onto and feel a sense of pride, and to see why Cleveland Heights is so unique, like a utopia within Northeast Ohio,” she explained. “So, we thought this was a perfect way to set the stage for our anniversary.”
As the winter season and the holidays approach, deciding to finally unveil the initiative in the fall was strategic, Trupo said.
“That was part of the reason why we launched this when we did,” she said. “We have a pretty good amount of businesses that are open here, and we’re hopeful that our businesses can succeed through this tough time.”
Trupo added the initiative also aligns with what makes Cleveland Heights what it is, both currently and historically.
“‘All are Welcome’ and the anniversary align in a way that our city’s history has always been one that is open and inclusive,” she explained. “In a resident survey we did a few years ago, we found the reason people move here is because of the diversity. That has always been intentional for us – whether that is within the businesses or the residents, as well as race, ethnicity, gender, etc.”
If these were normal times, Trupo said the city would be planning and holding centennial events to get residents involved and excited. Though the new initiative is the first step in that, she said 2021 is largely unclear right now.
“We are putting together plans of what 2021 will look like and we’re not ready to roll that out yet because of the big unknown right now,” she said. “A little bit of this is put on hold to wait and see what the status of the pandemic will be in the winter and early spring. That will have a hand in what we do in 2021.”
But right now, residents can expect to be engaged in other ways for the “All Are Welcome” initiative. Trupo said the city put out a video in the first week of the roll-out, which has garnered over 12,000 views and “more shares than we ever have had” by current and former residents. The city has also been taken out advertising on RTA buses, she said.
“Putting up and capturing that video and getting such a great response has really fired me up,” she said. “We also purposely used local talent for the filming and production, our marketing firm and T-shirts. In all of this, we’ve had the opportunity to seek out great local talent, and that makes me feel really good.”
As Cleveland Heights looks to the future, Trupo said the new initiative is a starting point.
“What this does is reiterate the pride that we take in our diversity and we hope that it will continue when people are looking for a place to live,” she said. “We want people to have that same enthusiasm and value in embracing diversity. And for the next 100 years, we will continue to build on that inclusiveness that we have the past 100.”