CLEVELAND, Ohio–Who knew Cleveland was cool?
The day after the Republican National Convention ended with GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump emerging as the clear political winner, many of the 50,000 visitors who attended the event are leaving with a positive impression of another winner: the city of Cleveland itself.
Everyone knew that Cleveland is the home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but what else does it have to offer?
A lot, as it turns out, and it begins with the gracious hospitality offered to visitors to the city on the shores of Lake Erie by the three thousand volunteers whose helpful presence was ubiquitous from the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to the streets of downtown Cleveland to the more than fifty hotels that housed delegates, members of the media, and other convention attendees.
“My impression of Cleveland is much different than I thought. I thought it was an old run-down city. We found a beautiful, clean, friendly city,” Jody Rushton, a member of the Texas delegation from Plano, tells Breitbart News.
“The other thing that was wonderful was the feeling of safety and security. Everywhere we turned when we walked, there was an abundant police presence. They were friendly, they were helpful. They went out of their way to help us,” Rushton adds.
What Rushton tells Breitbart News next will be music to the ears of the local civic leaders who organized Cleveland’s convention hosting effort.
“I already have made plans to bring my family back to Cleveland this fall. I was impressed with how pretty the lake is There is an art museum here we didn’t get to see this time we are excited to see next time,” Rushton says.
Six thousand police officers–two thousand five hundred from more than a dozen states, five hundred from Cleveland, and three thousand from federal law enforcement agencies–provided the overwhelming presence that created the safe and secure environment Rushton and the other convention attendees appreciated so much.
Visitors arriving and departing from the Cleveland Hopkins International were treated to a number of welcoming experiences, from a duo of young traditional Chinese dancers, to a chorus of young girls from a local group known as the Singing Angels, to two employees of the city of Cleveland handing out free bottled waters to thirsty airport travelers.
The physical setting of the convention itself was also impressive. The Quicken Loans Arena, home of the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, where the delegates met and the speeches were delivered, was slick and modern. Just a few hundred feet away, Progressive Field, home to the American League division leading Cleveland Indians, was open to convention attendees. Many wandered over during a break, or played hooky, to sit in the stands, look down on the lush green field with a background of crystal blue skies and bask in the warm summer sun.
As delegates emerged from the Quicken Loans Arena after Donald Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday night they looked north to the lake and saw a brilliant display of fireworks illuminating the tall buildings of downtown Cleveland.
It was a fitting end to the 2016 Republican National Convention and a fitting reputational rebirth of Cleveland as “The Cool Place on the Lake.”