In Twisted Tradition, Pasadena's Occasional Doo Dah Parade Selects 2019 Queen

Published : Monday, October 21, 2019 | 4:10 AM

In an hours-long tryout filled with wackiness, judges for the Occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade selected a Queen for their 42-year-old tradition of staging a parody Rose Parade.

The Queen of the 2019 Doo Dah Parade is Queen Jesselyn Desmond, who has tried twice before to capture the coveted honor before winning Sunday night. She succeeds Queen Jennipha Nielsen.

Queen Jesselyn will lead the assemblage of farcical Doo Dah-ians on Sunday, November 24 down a Colorado Boulevard route in East Pasadena.

Mandolin-playing Queen AK-47 Queen Sparrow Dena from Pasadena came in second place. Locally-known Ellen Snortland, an author, actor, and lawyer, came in third place.

This year’s Doo Dah Queen tryouts and coronation took place at the American Legion Bar, 179 N. Vinedo Street in Pasadena – a town-hall setting with long tables in beer-fest style, roast beef sandwiches, and Doo Dah’s House Band, New Astroturf, setting the mood for the lively Queen caucus.

The whole idea of the Doo Dah parade was conceived around 1977, when several friends in Pasadena – among them Peter Apanel, Ted Wright, Charles “Skip” Finnell, and Richard Caputo – sitting in a long-since-closed bar called Loch Ness Monster Pub, saw that New Year’s Day in 1978 fell on a Sunday, and the Rose Parade would not march on a Sunday and instead would on the Monday after, January 2, according to tradition.

The group decided it would be fun to have an alternate parade on January 1 that year. In the first Doo Dah parade, Wright became the first grand marshal, and some of the early participants were Snotty Scotty and the Hankies, the Lawn Mower Drill Team, the Briefcase Drill Team and General Hershey Bar, among many others. From that time on, the Doo Dah Parade, the “other” Pasadena parade – also sometimes referred to as “the twisted sister” of the conventional Rose Parade, has been held yearly, although the dates have changed farther away from New Year’s Day – perhaps to be not too irreverent to the original parade.

The first public tryouts for a Doo Dah Parade Queen was staged in 1998 at a Gothic house on stilts. It then moved to the famed Zorthian Ranch, in Altadena. Several years later, the organizers fixed the tryout venue at the American Legion Bar.

At every tryout, individuals of all genders, shapes, ages, and persuasions – including a dog at one time – test their fate to become Queen of the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade. Even the judges are as wackily costumed and include many of the former queens, veteran parade entrants, tryout supporters and the curious public.

Previous candidates have included such curious names as Count Smokula, Santa’s Bad Elf, the Swami from El Monte, Sabrina the Stimulus Package, Rooby Breastnut, Dolla Holla, Erica Valentine and Miss Boy Frances.

Last year, the judges selected Queen Jennipha, who’s actually Lauren Nielsen, the CEO and co-founder of the One World Project, a community-based initiative focused on providing programs and advocacy in an effort to address problematic global issues, according to her LinkedIn page.

Nielsen said last year the Doo Dah Parade is a coming together of people from all different backgrounds.

“It’s where diversity and creativity are celebrated, the kind of s%#* that launches rockets into space and put a man on the moon,” she said. “It is the best part of Pasadena, it’s of the people for the people.”

Most recently, Nielsen has been a spokesperson for a group called Universal Education, Gender Equality and Rights for Persons with Disabilities.

This year’s Occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade celebrates 42 years of irreverent frolicking on the streets of Pasadena on Sunday, November 24, when more than a thousand participants from all over Southern California are expected to join the fun.

Over 90 entries, including zany art cars and floats, eccentrics, disruptors, political pundits, artists, lone wolves and steam punks, will accompany a legion of revelers past the mom-n-pop shops along East Pasadena’s shady tree-lined streets.

The most lineup, the organizers said, includes LuluBob Space Shuttle, Wisdom Arts Lab, Howdy Krishna, Flying Baby Field Goal, Professor Pigeon’s Flying Library, Radioactive Chickenheads, Dr. Steele’s Army of Toy Soldiers, Unicorns with Palaces, L.A. Derby Dolls, Nintendo Kids, Free Thought Society, Bearded Ladies, Saucer from Bakersfield, Titanic, Mister Clops, Gay Chefs, Partying Parrotheads, Murrugun the Mystic Sword Swallower, Trashion Show, The World’s Tallest Girl Scout, Sneaky Haircuts, Devilicious, Honeybee and the Paddlewheel, Recumbent Revolution, Clown Doctors from Outer Space, and the 2019 Doo Dah Queen.

The parade steps off at 11 a.m. and loops along Colorado Boulevard, between Altadena Drive and San Gabriel Blvd. in East Pasadena.

Immediately following the event, many after-parties will take place in the Parade vicinity.

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