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Tens of Thousands of Akronites Turn Out to Celebrate King James

NBA Tital Celebration in Akron
TIM RUDELL
/
WKSU
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

downtown Akron LeBron celebration
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU
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WKSU
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 celebrating LeBron James and the NBA title he and his Cavalier teammates just brought to Ohio.

Barber John, downtown Akron
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU
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WKSU
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 John Kinzel as 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 Barber, and Daughter Karen Barber
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU
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WKSU
Sharon and Karen Barber of Akron

Outside, haron Barber and her daughter Karen repeated the theme of LeBron being 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 is LeBron James’ 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.”

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

Don Gullick of Cuyahoga Falls was standing by Pamela Summerville of Akron, who was next to Tim Gansel of Ellet.

“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 simple message
LeBron had 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.