Culture, personal identity, and unbridled creativity all define this year’s BLINK parade on Thursday, October 13 as the event invites everyone to celebrate the power of light. One of the weekend’s onły events allowing direct public participation, this “ritual of beginning” kicks off the BLINK experience with collective community impact and inspiration.
This year’s parade is led by ish, the community engagement organization focused on bringing people together through Jewish arts and cultural traditions. Both Marie Krulewitck-Browne, executive and artistic director, and Megan Rahill, director of programs and operations have previous experience—they led the 2017 and 2018 BLINK parades while working at ArtWorks. When the opportunity to organize this year’s parade was brought to them, it made a lot of sense. “ish is about bringing people together through the arts and using it as away to bridge cultural divides,” says Rahill.
“We have a lot of experience in events and expense management and know how to really throw an experience for people they won’t forget.”
The 2022 parade theme is “Together: a constellation of shared cultures and unique identities; we illuminate joy through creative expression,” and several structural changes to the parade reflect that direction. Inspired by the Olympics, 11 BLINK Torch Bearers, representing various parts of the Greater Cincinnati area, will carry artist-designed torches in the parade. ish aimed to select a diverse group of “people who are really making an impact in the work they do and the life they’re living,” says Rahill. The Torch Bearers this year are Will from Make-A-Wish, Kristen Schlotman, Toilynn O’Neal Turner, Lee Turner, Jo Martin, Ian and Jessica Orr, Gary Dangel, Charlotte Reed, Sherry Hughes, and Isaac Wright.
ish is also creating a parade finale at Fifth and Elm streets, which will formally kick off the weekend. Stage performances will feature some of the parade marching groups as well as other community participants.
One parade aspect that ish kept this year was inviting a mix of new and returning groups to walk in the procession itself. All entries were required to focus on the warmth and connection of light, highlighting their cultural traditions, group attributes, or unique pride. As the opening event for a festival showcasing specially selected artists and individuals from around the world, the parade’s focus on Cincinnati is especially profound. “I think there are people who maybe don’t always feel like there’s a place for them at BLINK,” says Rahill. “[The parade] makes more sense to some people as, That’s something I could do easily or I’d love to see that.”
The parade is sure to be a special celebration of Cincinnati, not just of its artists but of everyday residents—their identities, actions, passions, cultures, and experiences. Art and light unite us all at BLINK, says Rahill, and Cincinnati is our collective home; the parade hopes to remind us that these streets belong to everyone.
The BLINK 2022 parade steps off from Fifth and Broadway at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 13. Find the full list of parade participants and more information here.