Pasadena Doo Dah Parade Steps Off Sunday With Seismologist Grand Marshal, Rock Bands and "Shake, Rattle and Roll" Theme

Published : Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 5:37 AM

With “Shake Rattle and Roll” as the theme of the Doo Dah Parade this Sunday, it’s fitting that its Grand Marshal would be top seismologist Susan Hough and her “Seismo Sistahs,” also respected seismologists.

The parade steps off at 11:00 a.m. on Colorado Blvd. between Altadena Dr. and San Gabriel Blvd.

It’s a chance to have fun but also bring attention to earthquake preparedness, parade organizers say.

Doo Dah Grand Marshal Hough is a seismologist at the United States Geological Survey in Pasadena, and “Earthquake Response Coordinator” of the office on the Caltech campus. Her presence and that of her colleagues, underscores the need to create awareness for earthquake preparedness.

“It was quite a surprise when I was selected,” Hough said about her selection. “It really came out of left field. The parade organizers thought having seismologists would be fun. California has lots of faults, we have earthquakes and it’s not a laughing matter. But you can’t live in this state unless you have a sense of humor. Earthquakes are the price we pay for living in Paradise.”

Hough said she didn’t deserve to take the honor all on her own.

Elizabeth Cochran (USGS seismologist), Christine Goulet (USC, engineering seismologist), Voon Hui Lai (Caltech graduate student), Caleste Labedz (Caltech graduate student), Susan Owen (JPL, geophysicist), and Kate Scharer (USGS geologist) join Hough

“I thought, ‘There are quite a few women seismologists, what if I bring some of my colleagues with me?’ And they liked the idea,” she said. “We’re all excited. It’s a chance to have a bit of fun and also to get across the message of preparedness.”

“When an earthquake hits, you’re probably in your home or your office,” she said. “It will make a difference if your bookcase next to your bed is bolted to the wall, if the hot water heater is strapped to the wall, or if you have a gas line coming into the house, you can get a gizmo that shuts off the gas automatically and that can save your house from burning down.”

Having a somewhat “serious” Grand Marshal is in keeping with the times.

“People don’t have the same kind of humor these days,” said Hurley She said the group is careful about the parade and makes sure a range of people are included who represent many groups.

“When have you ever had a geologist as a grand marshal of a parade?” asked Hurley. “it’s culture here in this area, and we thought it was fun. The other parade selects people who are not local. We picked local geniuses. We’re representing the local culture and the scientists and the crazy ones.

But there’s more to the “Shake Rattle and Roll” aspect of the parade this year.

In keeping with the “Shake, Rattle and Roll” theme, some cool Rock N Roll bands will also be shaking it up.

The Radioactive Chicken Heads, Meg Cole and the FunGuys, New Horses, Head of Hair Band, Pasadena Scots Bagpipe Band the Rock N Roll Preservation Society (Old Towne Pub) will be leading the musical acts.

“Since the theme is Shake Rattle and Roll we have some great Rock N Roll groups involved,” said Doo Dah Parade’s Patricia Hurley, managing director of Light Bringer Project.

She said the Rock N Roll Preservation Society is a regular in the Doo Dah Parade and the Society continually comes up with fun bands to feature on the float.

“Bands jump on and bands jump off during each of the three loops of the parade,” Hurley said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The pub has a big after-party also, Hurley said.

Another highlight of this year’s parade will be the Radioactive Chicken Heads, the well-known punk rock group that dresses up like a bunch of guitar-slinging Rock N Roll chickens. They are wacky and mysterious at the same time — they’re fun and wild, but humans don’t know too much about them — like where they are cooped — but the music is good.

“The Doo Dah Parade is important because it’s all about having fun and celebrating individuality and absurdity,” said the Radioactive Chicken Heads. “And Rock N Roll is about breaking the rules and being wild and free.”

But one thing that isn’t so popular is the Thorny Rose Award, which was done away with a few years ago because of lack of interest, and, said Hurley, “because people don’t like to be made fun of in public.”

While people should keep in mind earthquake preparedness, it’s time for the scientists and many entrants in the parade to prepare … for fun.

“Scientists have been involved in the Doo Dah Parade before,” Hurley said. “When you see this parade, you’ll understand that scientists like to have fun too.”

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