Cleveland Cultural Gardens turning 100, to celebrate with year of festivities (photos)

June 17th, 2015

Cleveland Cultural Gardens turning 100, to celebrate with year of festivities (photos)

By Laura DeMarco, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio – In a city of underappreciated gems, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens may be the most underappreciated treasure.

The leaders of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation are hoping to change that as they mark their 100th birthday.

The federation has announced a full slate of Centennial programming that will kick off with the One World Day celebration on Sunday, Aug. 23, and conclude with the 2016 One World Day. There’s also a preview event this June.

“We want to make people more aware about the gardens themselves, and make them accessible to everyone,” says Sheila Crawford, president of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. “We want people to feel they can come down again themselves, and feel comfortable.

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens date back to 1916 and stretch three miles along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and East Boulevard near University Circle. There are 29 established gardens and eight in the works. They are unique in America, a collection of varied, landscaped gardens honoring the rich ethnic diversity of a city that has evolved over nearly 100 years.

“The Gardens themselves ARE the city,” says Executive Board member Debbie Hanson. “They tell the story of Cleveland.”

The gardens began in 1916 with the establishment of the Shakespeare Garden, now the English Garden, on 250 acres of parkland donated by John D. Rockefeller in 1897. The first ethnic garden, the Hebrew Garden, took root in 1926. Recent gardens include the 2012 Albanian Garden and the 2011 Syrian Garden.

Ground has also been broken on the African-American Garden, and the Russian, Korean, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Scottish and Native American gardens all have gotten approval and their designated plots, though have not broken ground yet.

Some gardens are small, like the tiny Rusin one. Others are massive, like the opulent Italian Garden with its fountain and terraces, or the German Garden with its imposing Goethe statue or the ornate Hungarian terraced area. The land is owned by the city, but the gardens are overseen, paid for and cared for by the various ethnic groups.

“There are many gardens, but we are one big federation,” says Svetlana Stolyarova, president of the Russian Cultural Garden. Since its 2012 approval, the Russian Garden, infused with the energy of newer immigrants, has become one of the most vital gardens despite not yet having a sign or any structures. They have hosted everything from grand piano concerts to pancake festivals. They plan to break ground on their structures and gardens in August or September, making it the only garden being built in the centennial year.

The Gardens themselves ARE the city - Debbie Hanson

Most Clevelanders only see these beautiful gardens as they drive by on their way to I-90. Crawford and the others want to change that, giving people as many reasons as possible to park and get out of their cars for the gardens’ 100th birthday. Here’s what they have planned so far:

99 Red Balloons in the German Cultural Garden, Tuesday, June 30: In honor of year 99 – not to mention the anti-war, anti-Wall 1983 German pop song by Nena – there will be a red balloon release in the German garden at 11:30 a.m. June 30. “It’s meant to be a celebration calling attention to the gardens, not a lot of lengthy speeches,” says Hanson. “It’s a party” — a party with German food and bands. And yes, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport has been forewarned. Oompah!

One World Day, Sunday, Aug. 23: Not only is this the beginning of the gardens’ centennial; 2015 is also the 70th anniversary of the first One World Day, a post-World War II celebration meant spread the beliefs of the United Nations movement.

This year’s One World Day will be bigger than ever, with activities in all 29 existing and eight developing gardens, including an expanded Parade of Nations; ethnic performers and foods specific to those cultures in each garden; performers on six main stages in defined “regions” of the gardens; trolleys taking visitors to the different regions; a naturalization ceremony; and passports for kids to get stamped at each garden. The opening festivities will take place in the Chinese Garden. The evening will conclude with the International Folk Festival.

Centennial Gala, April 14, 2016: There will be a huge gala marking the exact 100thanniversary dedication day of the British Garden, then the Shakespeare Garden.

Concert series, summer 2016: There will be an expanded concert series rotating throughout different gardens. More details to come later.

Throughout 2016: Most individual gardens are planning their own centennial activities. Look for events throughout all of the gardens, from the Russian maslanitsa pancake festival in winter to opera in the Italian Garden, concerts in the Indian Garden and John Barrie Day in the Irish Garden.

2016 One World Day, August: The 2016 One World Day will mark the conclusion of the centennial celebrations.

“What’s so exciting is that all of the gardens want to get involved,” says Crawford, “even the smaller gardens [that] are developing. Even though they don’t yet even a sign, they want to participate.”

Almost 100 years, and the Cultural Gardens are still going strong … and hopefully not underappreciated for much longer.

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April 8th, 2015
Sunday, July 26, 2015 — 6:00-7:30 pm. Italian Cultural Garden - 990 East Blvd. Cleveland, OH 44108.

Popular Free concert of well known music from famous operas presented by the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation in the beautiful Renaissance Garden with Opera Circle.
Bring a picnic, or enjoy wood fired pizzas made on site, 250 chairs provided, but bring your own to ensure a seat because 1,743 Opera lovers attended last year!
Free parking in the lot across the street from the garden, or on the street. For further information please call— 216-916-7780.

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April 8th, 2015

Award winning films from Italy with English subtitles will be shown on Sept. 17, Sept. 24, Oct. 1 Oct. 8 & Oct. 15. at the Cedar Lee, Atlas Cinemas & Capitol theaters 5 pre-film parties! Sells out early.  ALL tickets sold in advance.

Film ($10) and pre-party dinner ($20) call 216-456-8117.

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Cleveland Cultural Gardens Calendar of Events for 2015

April 1st, 2015

We are proud to announce the new 2015 Calendar of Events for the 99th year of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. This is going to be en exciting year preparing for the Cultural Garden’s Centennial Celebration!! This is a tenative schedule so please check back often for updates or changes. Don’t miss the fun!


March 28 2015——-10am-12:00pm.  Czech Cultural Garden Clean up Day. Shaker Heights High School volunteer students  to help with the maintenance of at the Czech Garden with Paul Burik- coordinator.


April 3 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel

April 11 2015—–12 – 3:00pm. Slovenian Cultural Garden Clean up Day. CWRU Residential Hall Association- 1st year residential students volunteers. They have asked to reserve 10-15 volunteers for the Slovenian Garden. The rest of the Garden  delegates can ask for volunteers  for your Gardens on a first come first serve basis.

April 12, 2015——1- 4:00pm.  HebrewCultural Garden Clean up Day . “J-Serve” and D.L.Lavin reserved their volunteers to work primarily at the Hebrew Garden with Bill Jones.

April 14 2015——6:30pm.  Celebration of the 99th Birthday of the Cultural Gardens of Cleveland. Delegate  Meeting and Installation of Executive Board -The Cleveland Cultural Gardens’ Birthday and Installation of the new Executive Board members of the CCGF will be Tuesday, April 14th at 6:00 pm. The Russian Cultural Garden is proud to host this event at Sherwin Gilmour Party Center.

April 20 2015—–1- 4 p.m.  ” Earth Day” at the  Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Details to follow.

April 24 2015——1-3:30pm. Arbor Day with volunteers from Holden Arboretum  at the Ukrainian Cultural Garden. Details to follow. 


May 7 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel

May 28  2015—-TBD—- UCI Bus Tour. contact: Erica Puussaar

May 30 2015—–TBD—–A service project with the Boys Scouts of America. Estimating over 100 volunteers. Details to follow.


June 7 2015——1:30 pm. Serbian Cultural Garden -Dedication of new Tesla Statue and new bust of Vuk Karadzic.

June 9 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel

June 9 2015—–TBD—–Home Schooling Feild Trip with Paul Burik

June 14 2015—–The Annual Cleveland Lithuanian Cultural Garden PICNIC will take place on Sunday, June 14, 2015 at East Park Beach Club on Lake Erie off Neff Rd. More details to follow.

June 20 2015—–12:00 noon—–Junteenth @ African American Gardens at the new Center – 7905 Central Ave. More detalis to follow

June 27 2015——Annual Free Liszt Concert in the Hungarian Cultural Garden. Come and enjoy  “Concert in the Garden” to celebrate summer at the Hungarian Cultural Garden of Cleveland, on Saturday, June 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM. A string quartet featuring Cleveland Orchestra musicians playing the music of Franz Liszt! This event is free and open to the public. Picnic on the Lake  (Immediately following the Liszt Concert)     $40.00 @Home of Richard Fleischman RSVP  440  256-2264.

June 28  2015—–1:00pm——“Võidupüha Jaanipäeva” – Summer Solstice and Freedom Celebration in the Estonian Cultural Garden Garden

June 30 2015—–11:30 a.m——-99 Red Balloons in the German Cultural Garden, In honor of 99 years of the Cultural Gardens – not to mention the anti-war, anti-Wall 1983 German pop song by Nena, (99 Red Balloons).  Red balloons will be released in the German Cultural Garden at 11:30 a.m. June 30. “It’s a party celebrating all the Gardens with German food and bands.” Free event.


July 2 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel

July 11 2015—–10am. Serbian Cultural Garden Golf Outing- Sleepy Hollow Golf Course 9445 Brecksville Road, Brecksville. Event will benefit the Serbian Cultural Garden.
10:00 a.m. Registration (With a shot of Slivo) 11:00 a.m. Tee Time from Front and Back Nines Your Tee Time will be assigned in the order that your Foursome payment is received $135 Fee Includes: Morning Pastries and Coffee , 18 Holes of Golf * Cart, Italian Buffet Luncheon, Prizes * Music * Dinner 6:00 p.m. Dinner at  St. Elias Church, 8023 Memphis Ave, Cleveland, OH 44144. Non-golfing spouses or guests welcome! $35.00 includes dinner and music. Please make check payable to the Serbian Golf Outing For golf and/or dinner mail to:Serbian Cultural Garden P.O. Box 91896 Cleveland, OH 44101. For information, please call (216) 986-1910 SCRAMBLE FORMAT. Winning foursome receives a catered dinner for 8 at The Serbian Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park

July 11 2015—–10am.  Polish Cultural Garden Work. Polish Cultural Garden, corner of East Blvd. and St. Clair
Dear Friend of Polonia,    Volunteers are needed to work this Saturday, July 11th, 2015 at 10:00 am in the Polish Cultural Garden, corner of East Blvd. and St. Clair. The Polish Cultural Garden was dedicated on October 28th, 1934.  We will be removing eight shrubs along with the root balls.  This is heavy duty hand work, please bring your own gloves and shovel.  Water will be provided. It has been said that more hands make a job easier.  Michael Minich, a parishioner of St. Barbara’s has arranged for helpers from the LIA house to assist.  All are welcome to participate in preserving, restoring and promoting one of America’s finest Polish heritage sites. Please note that East Blvd, at the Polish garden is currently a one lane road due to road construction.

July 26 2015—— 6:00 – 7:30pm.  Opera in the Italian Cultural Garden - Enjoy the popular FREE concert the Italian Cultural Garden puts on each year where beautiful music mingles with the sounds of the Renaissance fountain. Come and dream a little while being serenaded with music from famous Italian operas performed by Opera Circle. Bring the whole family!


August 11 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel

August 23 2015—–11am-8:30pm.  One World Day in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Located in Rockefeller Park.

We are celebrating 99 years of “Peace through Mutual Understanding” and launching the countdown to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens’ Centennial Celebration in 2016. Come and be a part of Cleveland history! FREE event!  Hosted by the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation. More details to follow.


September 3 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel

September 17,24 ——Cleveland Italian Film Festival at the Cedar Lee, Atlas Cinemas Eastgate, Capitol Theaters. For Tickets please call: 216.456.8117.  More details to follow.


October 1,8,15——Cleveland Italian Film Festival at the Cedar Lee, Atlas Cinemas Eastgate, Capitol Theaters. For Tickets please call: 216.456.8117.  More details to follow.

October 2 2015—–10th Anniversary of Indian Garden Grand Celebration. Details to follow.

October 13 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel


November 10 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel


December 3 2015——6:30pm. Executive Board Meeting - Ariel

December 8 2015—–6:30pm.  Delegate Meeting – Holiday Dinner - TBD

Note: All meetings are at 6:30 at Ariel International Center on East 40th Street unless otherwise noted.

Please check back often for updates. Thank you for your support!!!

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A Call for Help…

March 21st, 2015

Vintage postcard of the British Cultural Garden or how it was originally called Shakespeare Garden in 1916.

Vintage postcard of the British Cultural Garden or how it was originally called Shakespeare Garden in 1916.

The British Cultural Garden could use some help.

Originally inaugurated by Leo Weidenthal, Shakespeare Garden was the seed that eventually led to the formation of the Cultural Gardens. Dedicated in 1916, the Shakespeare bust and the Shakespeare Garden (now the British Cultural Garden) were dedicated as part of a celebration that stretched across the world. Cities and nations located within Britain’s sphere of colonial influence, including its former colonies, erected monuments, planted gardens, and held celebrations commemorating the bard’s death.

Next year the Cultural Gardens Of Cleveland and The British Cultural Garden will celebrate their 100th year Anniversary!!!

The British Cultural Garden is preparing for it’s centennial and needs volunteers to help beautify it.
If you can kindly donate some time, please contact….
Mary Hamlin, Coordinator for Cultural Gardens Tours and Speakers also the British Garden Delegate… You may contact her at

Phone #(216) 321-7807

Also from Susan Perrin ·….
You can also contact the Daughters of the British Empire in Ohio on their Facebook page.

Together we can bring back the British Cultural Garden to it’s glorious beauty again and make history!! The Garden needs our help NOW!! Thank you!

The British Cultural Garden in 1935... originally called the Shakespeare Garden

The British Cultural Garden in 1935... originally called the Shakespeare Garden

Shakespeare Garden

Shakespeare Garden

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