New signs welcome RNC visitors to Cleveland

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CLEVELAND-- Downtown Cleveland is in the middle of a major transformation as the clock ticks down to the Republican National Convention.

The RNC is just three weeks away.

"I've been a lifelong Clevelander and want to be a part of kind of welcoming people here," said west side Cleveland resident Dave Gatian.

Gatian’s is one of 50 faces chosen to fly on half of the 800 banners going up around town welcoming visitors arriving in Cleveland for the RNC.

"I asked the guy in the bucket truck if he'd seen my picture... I'm a roof consultant so I was wearing my safety gear. I had my safety vest on and my helmet," said Gatian.

Gatian found his photo hanging along Euclid Avenue in University Circle.  He is one of 140 people who auditioned in April to participate in Destination Cleveland's "We the people welcome you to Cleveland" project.  Fifty people were chosen.

"We were looking for great pictures, great smiles... We wanted to make sure that we had a diverse crowd that really represented Cleveland," said Destination Cleveland spokeswoman Jennifer Kramer.

On Monday, work crews were replacing old banners around Quicken Loans Arena with new ones.

"I was like yay!" said Sherry Callahan.

Callahan will also appear on a welcome banner.  She admits the opportunity could help her real estate business, but hopes it helps sell Cleveland too.

"It is a family city and we've had a lot of examples of how well we all get along, with the Wade Oval Wednesdays that we have, and the Edgewater concert series and Euclid Beach, add most definitely with the Cavaliers' championship parade," Callahan said.

Also downtown, storefronts with known and not-so-known facts about Cleveland.

"I hope they walk away with a better sense of really who we are and the people of the community that's welcoming them," Kramer said.

"I'm not even Republican, but it's not a political thing for me. It's not a red, blue thing for me. It's just 'Hey, we're Cleveland, you know, come visit our city,'" Gatian said.

The banners will appear mainly downtown, in University Circle and near FirstEnergy Stadium

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