One of Cleveland's most beloved Hanukkah traditions rolls back into town this year.
The 2023 Light After Dark Menorah Parade is set for Dec. 10, the fourth night of Hanukkah, at 4 p.m. The event is a 23-mile parade of cars lit up with menorahs, dreidels and other festive decorations. Taking off from Legacy Village and ending at Severance Town Center, the celebration reaches five communities, including Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, University Heights, Beachwood and Lyndhurst.
This year's event will include Ohio's largest dreidel, the organization says, as well as Jewish music broadcast on 97.3FM and treats for audience members. The ride culminates in a celebration with food, drinks and music at the finish line.
Anywhere on the parade route, which can be found here, is good to watch, but Fairmount and Belvoir, The University Heights Fire Station, and the starting and finishing lines are popular gathering spaces. If you can't make it, the parade will be live-streamed this year.
The Light After Dark Parade is not Cleveland's only option. On Dec. 7, the first day of Hanukkah, Chabad of Downtown Cleveland hosts its Grand Menorah Lighting at 5:30 p.m. in Public Square. Cleveland hosted its first Menorah Parade in 2014 with just over 10 cars, but in recent years, that number has grown to as many as 50.
A few years ago, we discussed the importance of the event with Rabbi Yossi Freedman of the Chabad of Downtown Cleveland. Here's what he told writer Ken Schneck:
When you have more than 40 cars with big, lit-up menorahs and music blasting, it gets a lot of attention. It’s supposed to. Part of the mitzvah of Hanukkah is to let people know about the miracle of the holiday, to help bring light to the darkness. As we drive from the high concentration of Jewish communities on the East Side to downtown, we go against rush hour traffic heading home, so everyone sees the menorahs. People honk their horns and flash their lights at us, which is an uplifting feeling as Hanukkah is supposed to bring people together. We stop along the way to give out small menorahs to whoever needs one. Every interaction is special and connects Jews throughout Cleveland.