Just when it seemed as though Pasadena’s wild and wacky Doo Dah Parade couldn’t get any zanier, along comes COVID-19 to force indoors parade participants and those who line the sidewalks of East Pasadena to watch them perform.
Like every other event that’s fallen victim to the coronavirus, including the Rose Parade, Doo Dah too has been forced to go virtual in its 43rd occasional year.
But fear not, says Tom Coston of the nonprofit arts organization Light Bringer Project, producers of the iconic annual event. Things haven’t changed that much, but they will be different, if that makes any sense.
“I think it’s always been kind of a response to the times,” Coston said of the highly anticipated annual event. “And so we’ll see. It’s always fun to just to let that happen. We try to let it happen as much as possible.” But only this year, “we’ll do the same thing in the same place,” he said.
In a press release issued this week, Coston and Light Bringer and Doo Dah cohort Patty Hurley said they understand the legitimate fears of the spread of COVID-19, and why many, if not all large-scale fall and holiday events have been canceled, postponed or moved inside.
But while Doo Dah organizers know a live event is not possible, the people who brought us such famous acts as the Synchronized Briefcase Drill Team, the Frida Kahlo Sisters of Perpetual Misery ever-ready Macho Dog, the BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team, the Shopping Cart Drill Team, the Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin, the Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team, The Marching Lumberjacks, The Army of Toy Soldiers, Claude Rains & the 20-Man Memorial Invisible Man Marching Drill Team, Uncle Fester, Count Smokula, The Radioactive Chicken Heads and the Committee for the Right to Bear Arms, a group that marches in precise formations while carrying mannequin arms said they’re always ready to try something new.
The offbeat event, which started out in the late ’70s as a send up of the prim and proper Rose Parade, and annually held on the weekend before Thanksgiving, will still exist this year, but only virtually.
The parade will take place on Sunday, Nov. 22, in cyberspace.
“This becomes a great opportunity to time capsule Doo Dah into the universe!” Coston is quoted saying in the release.
“It’s not just going to be pictures of people in funny hats, but what it will be is going to surprise us as much as you. Imagine ‘Housewives of …Moscow.’”
He wasn’t kidding. Spectators from around the globe, even those in Moscow, and Paris, and Tokyo, and New York will now be able to break out a lawn chair and enjoy the show from their living rooms.
Coston and Hurley took over the parade in the early 1990s, when it was staged in Old Pasadena. For the past decade, the parade has stepped off in East Pasadena, and Coston said he enjoys getting out into the crowd lining Colorado Boulevard, between Sierra Madre and San Gabriel boulevards, and mixing with people. He’ll miss that.
“It’s a day when you go out there and you bump into old friends, you see your new friends, and you just let the stress go. Somebody once said that the Doo Dah Parade was like a Rite of Reversal. It’s the one day when you can just let your hair down and just get out of your job role and get out of anybody’s expectation of what you should be like and what you’re doing, and just have fun. …I think it’s the kindred nature of it, the friendships that are out there and just the smiling, being happy together, gathering in a large group with your community,” he said.
But Coston said the reality is the parade may never be the same after this year.
“I think probably it will look different depending upon how we come out of this,” Coston said in an interview with Pasadena Now. “I’m assuming we’ll be out back in public next year. You know how people are feeling, how they want to have a parade and it may be and sometimes what you might see, they might reflect the socio-cultural climate. You might see people, dare I get too serious, like maybe being a little more political or making statements or reflecting on their life,” he said.
Coston said he and Hurley didn’t even think of doing the parade virtually. Then, he said, “somebody that I know phoned me up and said, ‘Hey, what about a virtual Doo Dah? I thought that’s ridiculous. You know? And I thought, ‘Oh, ridiculous.’ That makes perfect sense now.”
That realization, that the parade itself is intentionally ridiculous, led to another thought.
“I thought to myself, yeah, let’s just do it and see what happens. And it’s probably going to be what it’s going to be. It’ll be really funny. It’ll be really confusing, and it’ll be really dumb, and you know what? That’s exactly what we want.”
More information will be posted on the official website, PasadenaDooDahParade.info. Also visit them on on facebook and instagram: @pasadenadoodahparade #pasadenadoodahparade.