“Over the years we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly,” said Parade producer Tom Coston
Published : Sunday, November 24, 2019 | 6:33 AM
In the illustrious history of Pasadena’s “other” parade — the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade — there have been some wild times and wacky entrants, ranging from briefcase drill teams to floating dinner tables.
The parade — “America’s only parade that goes both ways at the same time” — is just plain loopy.
That’s a fact.
“The parade is on a loop so there’s really no beginning and no end, and there’s a median in the middle,” said Tom Coston, President of Light Bringer Project, the producer of the parade. “The parade just sort of ends when people get tired of it.”
Light Bringer Project took on the parade more than 20 years ago.
“We inherited the parade in 1995 and in the time we’ve been running it, it’s always different,” he said. “And this parade is a do-it-yourself eclectic parade and every year is super different but you don’t know til you’re out there. Over the years we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
The audience needs to know that there is a chance almost anything can happen during the course of the eclectic extravaganza.
“You have to be open to that,” he said. “It’s a noncorporate-sponsored parade. It’s very entertaining.”
There have been a lot of surprises over the years, Coston said.
“When we go back over the years there have been so many interesting parades,” he said.
“We had an entry one year called Raelian Religion,” he said. “These entries all have funny names, and we knew they were probably not religious. There were guys in Danskins head to toe and they were tethering a floating flying saucer which was high up. They had it on ropes so it wouldn’t fly away.”
“Well, came to find out they were on the FBI suspect list and they believed aliens had integrated into human society,” Coston recalled. “We saw them for two or three years. These guys were the real deal.”
But not all the groups in the parade have been as notorious.
“We’ve had so many that are fun that are really out there,” he said. “The Synchronized Marching Briefcase Drill Team is another one. They were sitting in a bar and the bartender said, ‘What are you going to do in the parade?’ They said, ‘We’re doing nothing, we’re investment bankers.’ But they decided they would actually participate. Jim Kemp organized them, they were all in three-piece suits and the did the funniest stuff ever and they were beloved. They did everything you could do with a briefcase.”
Coston said some of the most popular groups in the parade were horror-film worthy.
“Some of the other ones I’ve liked had zombie themes,” Coston said. “One group danced to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and they all did the same steps that were stilted and awkward. The only trouble is it was hard to move them through the parade because they were limping along.
Coston said among the most clever groups participating took ordinary items and made them extraordinary. His other favorites?
– The Carpool, which was a Fleetwood Cadillac that was aqua-blue colored, and it was a hot tub inside a car. “People in bathing suits drove the car in the parade and it was really like warm water but was a real car,” he said.
– A Moveable Feast, which was a dinner table on wheels. Imagine 10 people at the dinner table, all dressed in formal wear. “They had crepes, champagne, strawberry sauce, a real banquet that they could pedal down the street,” Coston said. “Somehow they steered the thing around the parade route. They even had a chandelier in the middle.”
– Trash N Show, an impressive fashion show made from the trash. “They’re coming back,” Coston said. “Imagine a full-on DJ with a runway that moves down the street and it’s a bunch of attractive young people who wear trash as fashion. It’s awesome.
Trash N Show will return, along with a full list of many new and interesting, history-making participants. Pasadena’s “other parade,” The Doo Dah Parade takes place today.
The Pasadena Doo Dah Parade just happens on Colorado Boulevard between Altadena Drive and San Gabriel Blvd. at about 11 a.m. Sunday.