Although the wild and wacky Doo Dah Parade parade is not back cavorting its way along Pasadena streets just yet, a ‘Doo Dah Day’ filled with “freakish-ness, music, and stupid fun,” on Sunday, Nov. 20, will herald the “The Great Doo Dah Reclamation of 2023.”
The parade itself will be returning in 2023 to its original location in Old Pasadena, organizers said.
On Sunday, the celebration begins with an appearance of the Rock N Roll Preservation Society, featuring Doo Dah Dignitaries, at 1 p.m. The ‘Shag Party’ — no further information available — begins at 2:30 p.m.
At 4:30 p.m., Lightning Dan and the Crawdads, a Grateful Dead tribute band, perform onstage, followed by Stromatolites and Soul Fuzz at 6:30 p.m.
Doo Dah Day is free admission to anyone 21 and above, who dares.
History of the “Other” Parade in Pasadena
Known as the twisted sister of the conventional Rose Parade in Pasadena, the “Occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade” began as a grassroots event in 1978 to gain national attention for its eccentric and irreverent satire.
The first Doo Dah Parade was actually on New Year’s Day in 1978 – a Sunday, which meant the traditional Rose Parade couldn’t be held until the next day, Jan. 2, a Monday, so the Doo Dah group decided it would be fun to have an alternate parade on New Year’s Day.
The Doo Dah Queen on that first parade was Dorothy Romani, who was called “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.” The Grand Marshal for the Doo Dah Parade was Corky Peterson, one of the original owners of Chromos Bar at 120 W. Colorado Blvd., along with Chris Gulker, and Jim Kendall. Chromos was where friends Peter Apanel, Ted Wright, Charles “Skip” Finnell, Corky Peterson, and Richard Caputo, among others, first talked about the concept of “the other Pasadena parade” and came up with the Doo Dah Parade idea.
It began as a satirical take on the Rose Parade, but now is a revered local tradition.
The times and locations of the Doo Dah Parade have changed, with the event moving from Old Pasadena to East Pasadena in 2010. Although held on Sunday for many years, today the parade is held on Saturdays in East Pasadena.
Early acts included a lawn mower drill team, the Synchronized Briefcase Drill Team, The Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin, the Claude Rains Invisible Man Marching Drill Team and the Committee for the Right to Bear Arms, a group that carried mannequin arms along the parade route.
Although it started out mocking the Rose Parade, the Doo Dah Parade has since caught on and established its own identity and fanbase.
The normally abnormal parade has inspired copycats in such places as Columbus, Ohio, Ocean City, New Jersey, and Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The last time the parade was held in person was in 2019. In 2020 and 2021, the organizers decided to cancel the actual parade and instead held virtual equivalents because of COVID-19.
Doo Dah Day on Sunday begins at 1 p.m. at the Old Towne Pub, located at 66 N. Fair Oaks Ave.