MXO ‘The Arts Unplugged:’ Mexican Cultural Garden Joins Wave Of New Gardens on MLK Blvd!, Posted September 10th 2021

In recent years, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, strung out along MLK Blvd in Rockefeller Park, have seen a growth spurt and a lot of change.

Founded in 1916 with the British Garden, the first wave of gardens was created prior to World War II, many of them honoring the Eastern European immigrants who came t o this area in the late 19th and early 20th century — Poles, Hungarians, Slovenians, Lithuanians, Czechs — along with other European groups such as Italians, Greeks, Germans, Irish.

Only a few new gardens were created after that until the 21st century brought new communities of immigrants to create spaces in the park. The Syrian Garden, created in 2011, is a popular spot for wedding pictures with its triple arches. Indians, Albanians, Azerbanjanis and Armenians added gardens; the Ethiopian Garden was dedicated in 2019 and the Vietnamese Garden this year. More are in the works, including a Native-American Garden and a Colombian Garden, which currently have markers claiming their unbuilt spaces. Korean, Lebanese and Turkish gardens are in the pipeline too.

The latest group to stake a space is the Comité Mexicano of Cleveland, which will build the Mexican Cultural Garden on the west side of the boulevard on a grassy meadow just south of the Serbian Garden. The group set up colorful displays, strings of cut-paper flags, and yes, a taco truck, at the space for One World Day Sunday August 29; it also mounted a large delegation for the parade, with costumes reflecting Mexico’s diversity.

That day was more or less its debut. The garden was actually in the works a couple of years ago, but the announcement was delayed by the pandemic.

“Eduardo Rodríguez, the Comité’s executive director, and Rey Esparza, the president, are both thrilled to be able to have this space to preserve and share Mexican values and traditions,” says the group’s press release. “Cleveland’s Mexican community is the second largest Spanish-speaking community in the metropolitan area [Puerto Ricans, who don’t yet have a garden, are the largest] and is rapidly growing. The acquisition of the Mexican Cultural Garden opens up an exciting new space in which to continue representing and serving the Mexican community in the city.”