CLEVELAND, Ohio — As the Kurentovanje parade began on East 55th and St. Clair, small flakes of snow fell from the sky.

Usually, that wouldn’t be a strange image during Cleveland’s late February, but with high temperatures breaking records throughout the previous week, the actual winter weather felt out of place.

Luckily, it fit the theme of the Kurentovanje holiday; the Slovenian festival features large monsters called “Kurents” which are meant to scare away the season of winter and usher in spring.

The monsters weren’t particularly frightening; the costumes looked like shaggy grey bears, with long beaks and colorful streamers on headbands. Each of the Kurents wore a belt of large metallic bells, which clanged with every stomp.

Perhaps they weren’t scary enough. The furry, noisy monsters seemed to be bringing winter back to the city, not out of it.

In addition to the Kurents, a line of trucks, floats, a marching band and even a dancing pikachu (from the popular Pokemon franchise) joined in the parade.

In front of the Slovenian National Home, the parading group stopped and the Kurents broke out into jumpy dance moves, dancing with onlookers. Over a megaphone, an announcer said that attendees should move into the building.

Thousands of people slowly filtered in through the front doors.

Some went into the basement to participate in the first-ever bocce ball tournament. Others entered the main ballroom to dance to traditional polka music being performed onstage. Many headed straight for the beer tables.

At 1 p.m., the party had started at Kurentovanje. See some of the highlights of the day in the video below, compiled through our Instagram Story postings throughout the day:

Cleveland Kurentovanje 2017 highlights

Though much of the Kurentovanje party was kept indoors, there were also ice carving demonstrations outside and a heated beer tent.

Visitors explored the area, many of them sitting in the balcony seats during performances. These short shows included traditional folk dancing, polka music performances and, at one point, a Kurent dance floor takeover.

Kurents take over Cleveland Kurentovanje dance floor

Among the food options were smoked sausages, pierogies and mac and cheese. Vendors lined the walls of the main performance room.

The party continued until the evening, with regular appearances by the furry monsters for photo opportunities.

See more of our coverage in the photos below:

  Cleveland Kurentovanje 2017 highlights

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