I celebrated my tenth anniversary of living in Parma a couple of weeks ago. In 2011, my now-wife and I moved here to follow my job. The decision to move here was mostly economic—the area was nice, affordable, and closer toward Akron-area relatives than most other Cleveland suburbs. It took awhile to get involved in the community. Work and infants kept us indoors, watching sitcom reruns and ordering takeout.
When our daughter was about two, we signed her up for storytime at the library. They were involved, half-hour sessions where library staff would sing, read, and dance with the kids. Afterward some of the other parents lingered, letting their kids play in the children’s area. It was a good opportunity for my daughter to learn how to play and share with others.
Talking to other parents, it quickly became clear how much of the city we were missing. The Ukrainian Village hosts the annual Ukrainian Independence Day parade and the Polish Village hosts four per year, on top of a number of festivals and community days thrown by both. The city itself holds a range of events, from live music to free education like Bookjoy, which helps promote reading and provide kids with more books of their own.
My favorite aspect of Parma, however, is its parks. We have many peppered throughout the city—set into lush green backdrops and well-maintained by the city. The park closest to my house—near the Michael A. Ries skating rink—was recently renovated. A zip line was added, and the amount of equipment was more than doubled (I do miss the old slides, though). My kids and I have the luxury of hitting up the Veteran’s Memorial Park, which is within walking distance and Honey Hut adjacent.
The Watershed Sterwardship Center has a slew of walking trails snaking behind the complex, and they offer free classes, Nature hikes, and educational festivals. I’m tempted to write something like “for an outdoorsy family like ours, Parma has plenty to offer”—which is true—but that would suggest Parma only caters to outdoorsy types.
The truth is, Parma is a large enough suburb that we have just about every hobby covered minus the ones that require mountains or large bodies of water. Numerous gaming stores cater to the wargame tabletop and DnD crowds. There are greasy spoons and excellent restaurants. Our disc golf courses attract competitions and clubs, and the city offers a large number of little league sports. In light of the pandemic, many of these activities have either opened back up or offer a digital alternative.
After ten years, I’ve realized how lucky I was to accidentally raise a family here, because I unearthed more positives than I originally bargained for. The kids have plenty of opportunities, and it’s helped us flourish as a family unit. Yes, like all cities Parma has its negatives. However I think the community we have is significant, and I encourage you to remember that every time you drive past one of our city’s many murals. Those are, after all, a symbol of our commitment to one another.
By Jeremy Jusek, YPOP board member