Clevelanders gathered May 15 to celebrate the start of the summer trimester with an outdoor party, complete with a cookout and live entertainment. Cleveland’s annual back-to-school picnic featured the 3rd Annual “Cleveland’s Got Talent” contest for students. Competing for a chance to advance to the national “Chiropractic Has Talent” event were three diverse musical acts. Each took the stage with their eye on the prize — a trip to California to compete at nationals for a chance to win $15,000.
Combining the buzz of summer, a free meal of hamburgers, hotdogs and a variety of delicious sides and spirited music made the event memorable. Judges for the talent show were Sarah Shelnutt, undergraduate coordinator; Benjamin Ford, chiropractic assistant; and Teresa Cordell (VI), StuCo treasurer. Performers included Marina Mangano (VI), who sang “The National Anthem” a cappella; Craig Stramel (V), who played guitar and sang “Flake” by Jack Johnson; and Blake Wetzel (III), who did an Elvis impersonation as he sang “Burning Love.”
Shelnutt said the competitors made judging the talent show a challenge. She added that it was a lot closer than many might have expected.
“The performances were all really very good,” Shelnutt said. “Each contestant was strong in different areas of their performance, which made it tough for us to judge.”
When all the votes were tallied, Mangano rose to the top of the competition and earned a spot in the national finals. Mangano said she felt “excited and relieved” after being announced as the winner, indicating that it was a bit nerve-racking to perform in front of her friends and professors.
“I’m used to performing in musicals or other venues where the stage lights block out the audience’s individual faces,” Mangano said. “Friday’s picnic was a more intimate setting, so I could see everyone’s expressions as I sang. Luckily, the, crowd was very receptive to my song and that allowed me to relax and do what I do best.”
When asked how she felt about advancing to the national competition, Mangano said: “I’m very excited, but I’m sure as the event gets closer the nerves will kick in. I’ve never been to California, so that will be a neat experience in and of itself. But also, I haven’t performed in a large competition like this since I was 15. I know I will be competing against some very talented people, so there’s no holding back on this one!”
Coordinating the event was Jalonna Bowie, director of student services. She said this was the fifth year for the back-to-school picnic, which was started in 2011 as a way for the administration to welcome students back to campus after spring break and to kick off the summer trimester. “Cleveland’s Got Talent” was added in 2013 and has become a staple of the event.
“The picnic and talent show were great this year,” Bowie said. “The rain held off just long enough for us to have perfect weather for our outdoor event. It was a wonderful day, and I look forward to seeing what Marina can do at the national show in August!”
Mangano will travel to Life Chiropractic College West in Hayward, Calif. for the “Chiropractic Has Talent” national competition on Aug. 8. The winner will receive the $15,000 grand prize with $7,500 being awarded for second place and $2,500 for third place.