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Tens of Thousands of Akronites Turn Out to Celebrate King James

Akron gathers to celebrate a native son and a championship.
Akron gathers to celebrate a native son and a championship.

It was Akron’s turn to celebrate the end of the curse.  Last night, the city honored it’s hometown hero, LeBron James and Cavs first-ever NBA title.

The skies parted. The golden evening sun burst through. Goodyear’s silver blimp arrived on cue.  It

The sun comes out just in time for Akron's celebration
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU
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The sun comes out just in time for Akron's celebration

was 7 p.m. in downtown Akron -- time for the throng of thousands around Lock 3 to begin celebratingLeBronJames and the NBA title he and his Cavalier teammates just brought to Ohio.

Johnathan Kinzel, owner of Rubber City Barber Shop
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU
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Johnathan Kinzel, owner of Rubber City Barber Shop

“It means a lot.  ... He said he was going to do this.  He said he wanted to bring back the title.  And he did it," said JohnKinzelas crowds were still streaming toward the city’s center, past his Rubber City Barbershop.

Like other downtown businesses he got a bit of an economic boost by staying open for celebration. hoping attendees who might need to kill some time some would do some impulse buying.

Sharon and Karen Barber of Akron
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU
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Sharon and Karen Barber of Akron

Outside, haron Barber and her daughterKarenrepeated the theme ofLeBronbeing true to his word.

“He upheld his promise for this city," said Karen. “Period, point blank.”

Added Sharon, “I’ve been behind him no matter where he went.  He does what he can for this city.” 

Karen pipcked back up. “This isLeBronJames’ rookie year jJersey. This is the first time I’ve taken the tag off it to wear it. It’s been in my closet.  I brought it out today for the champions.”

Infectiousoptimism

Once the celebration got rolling and the excitement mounted for the eventual appearance of LeBronJames, people who didn’t even know each other were talking together like old friends. The optimism was getting infectious.

DonGullickof Cuyahoga Falls was standing by Pamela Summerville of Akron, who was next to TimGanselofEllet.

“It’s a wonderful day for Akron," said Gullick.

"We are happy and we are proud," chimed in Summerville.

Then Gansel added, "Fifty-two years, I tell you. It was the Browns in ’64.  Watched with my dad.  The Indians, I think, are going to do good, too.  They’re in first place.”

LeBron's short and simplemessage

LeBronhad that ending of the championship drought on his mind, too, when he finally took the stage. He concluded his thank you to his family and the people of northeast Ohio for supporting him by noting that it took “a kid from Akron” to end the 50-plus-year Northeast Ohio championship drought. 

The crowd was smaller than more than 1 million people who attended Wednesday’s celebration in Cleveland. But tens of thousands of people filled Lock 3 and Canal Park and several blocks of Main Street. And, together they celebrated a local boy who made very, very good.

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