Published : Saturday, November 19, 2016 | 6:32 AM
After all these years, the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade is still marching forward and reaching out to younger participants and crowds.
This year, the parade is on Sunday, November 20, stepping off at 11 a.m. in East Pasadena along Colorado Blvd.
During the parade, dozens of colorful art carts, many of them made by young people who are now just recently beginning to again taking an active part in the satire to the more popular Tournament of Roses – the “other parade,” as Doo Dah organizers have been calling it for several years – and floats will accompany a legion of revelers past the mom-n-pop shops along East Pasadena’s shady tree-lined streets “with a memorable cast of local eccentrics, disruptors, pundits, lone wolves, steam punks, makers and merrymakers,” as the organizers say in the official Doo Dah press release.
The press release also lists entries that will be part of the parade, many of them new but most old ones, with such names as Nut Camp, Kinetic Pastry Science Mobile Muffins, Code Blue DeFibs, The Munster Coach, Flying Baby SeeSaw Acrobatics, Star Trek for Space, Toaster Car, Sign Spinners, Motorized Furniture, Dr. Steele’s Army of Toy Soldiers, The Billionaires, Free Thought Society, Unich Band, Car-Pool DeVille, Heuristicus, Bearded Ladies, Yiddish Dracula, Partying Parrotheads, Murrugun the Mystic, Man as Giraffe, Recumbent Revolution, Roobie Breastnut, Coast to Coast Critters, Stand Up Bus, L.A. Derby Dolls, Juan Pollo Chicken Boat Float-Route 66, Blues Brothers Tribute, and School of Rock.
To lead the parade will be Doo Dah’s 2016 Royal Queen Mimi MarGo-Go, and Grand Marshals Scott and Lori Webster, among many others.
Tom Coston, president of the Light Bringer Project, has been with the parade since it started 39 years ago and feels the Doo Dah parade is making a revival by involving more and more of the younger generation in the parade.
“They are taking to it and that’s what’s cool,” Coston says. “But what’s really important is for them to see themselves in it and the things they like in it. So when you get things like art carts , they start thinking, ‘oh, that’s my cart.’ We want them to take ownership of it.”
Coston also gave credit to the older generation, who over the years have always formed delegations and made their own art carts and floats that go with the parade.
“It’s kind of interesting because other groups of people that really love it are the oldsters, and like sometimes we get a box full of seniors,” Coston says. “They just kind of get over being serious and they just want to have fun and laugh and I think they haven’t lost their sense of humor.”
The Occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade began as a grassroots event in 1978 and immediately started gaining national attention for its eccentric satire. The parade has spawned numerous offbeat replicants across the country. Last year, the Doo Dah parade was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. It was also named once by Reader’s Digest as “America’s Best Parade,” and was recently featured in the book “50 Places You Must Visit Before You Die.”
Coston remembers how the Doo Dah parade started and recalls how it just acquired a life of its own and evolved over the years. In the first parade, Coston says he played Jimi Hendrix playing an accordion, and said he did “a damn good job” that time.
“In the beginning, the first year, the parade was spontaneous because the New Year’s Day parade was on January 2, because the 1st still was on a Sunday and there’s a City ordinance that the Tournament of Roses can’t be held on a Sunday and New Year’s falls on that day,” Coston says. “So basically a bunch of guys just decided to throw their own parade and named it Doo Da. They got a permit for it and they didn’t imagine that there was going to be second parade. They just did it that year for fun.”
One thing that did change for this year is the fact that John Scott Finnell, aka Snotty Scotty, who had been a regular feature in the Doo Dah parade with his band, The Hankies, will no longer be part of the 2016 parade. Finnell died on October 16 after a brave battle with cancer. He was 65.
“I don’t know if it’s going to change the anticipation, the energy, the satire and the fun and the smiles… they’re all going to be there,” Coston says of Finnell’s absence this year. “For those of us who were close to the band, and those who knew him and the many people in the community who loved him, I think their hearts are going to be a little heavy. It’s sad and a little bit of its soul is hurt. He’s a lot of the heart and soul of the Doo Dah parade.”
Snotty Scotty played music as the parade progressed along Pasadena’s streets every year, and was usually leading the bands that play in the official Doo Dah After Party, which will be at the American Legion at 179 Vinedo Street.
Aside from the official, a couple of “unofficial” Doo Dah parties usually happen every year. On November 20, PooBah Records, one of Pasadena’s favorite independent music stores, will feature live in-store performance and DJ. PooBah is located at 2636 E. Colorado Blvd., right on the parade route.
The famous Colorado Bar, located right next door at 2640 E. Colorado Blvd. will feature live bands, along with salty chips and drinks.
Food trucks will deploy off the parade route next door to PooBah records. Some of the trucks that have indicated their attendance include The Grilled Cheese Truck, Arturo’s Taco Truck, and Big Nash Ice Cream truck.
Coston believes the Doo Dah Parade is here to stay and will continue to attract more and more participants, apart from the audience that grows year by year.
“That’s what we want,” Coston says. “We wanted it to be a place for everybody and we want to make sure that it’s fresh and youthful at the same time like it was back in 1978.”
For more see https://pasadenadoodahparade.info/