The counterculture answer to the Tournament of Roses, Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade, celebrated its 37th anniversary on Saturday. For a few hours on most years, chaos reigns and anything goes.
The parade begins at the
intersection of Vinedo Avenue and East Colorado Boulevard, and makes a circuit to Altadena Drive to the west and San Gabriel Boulevard to the east. A wildly careening jitney barrels down the road, sending an organic sorbet cart to the sidelines. Aboard the jitney are members of the American Legion Hall
and alternative rock band the
Radioactive Chicken Heads.
“I’m overdressed for a spectator,” said Sigrid Bishop, a first-time attendee. “But where else can I wear this?” Bishop was wearing a pink-and-silver space girl costume with a matching wig. She was quickly grabbed from the ranks of observers and joined the parade. The Doo Dah is an event that lends itself to spontaneity.
“The Doo Dah Parade is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time,” said Chris Dooly, another first-time attendee. “It’s so offensive and random!” Dooly was referring to a “float” titled Human Baby Cornhole. At intervals along the route, baby dolls were launched towards a target like the eponymous arcade game.
In keeping with the no-theme theme, Vikings sailed down East Colorado followed by aliens in flying saucers, bare-bottomed protesters in hospital gowns, stilt walkers and Crimebo the Clown, jesters on unicycles, the Circuit Benders who jammed on toy instruments, and custom bicycles and clever costumes abounded.
Queen Narayana has been a Doo Dah regular for years and left her royal liter periodically to shimmy down the street. Grand Marshall Bartender Johnny, who serves drinks at The Colorado, is also a local institution.
The parade is a hit with areabusinesses too and between after parties, gourmet food trucks and special offers, many attendees made a full day of activity in East Pasadena.
Pasadena’s legendary cover band Snotty Scotty and the Hankies were joined by Horses on Astroturf to provide psychedelic retro musical entertainment at the American Legion Hall, and Drunk in the Garage, whose parade float was a rolling platform for their drummer, eventually settled at the Colorado.
The Doo Dah Parade is considered by its leadership to be “occasional” rather than “annual,” because over the years it has been held on different dates or not at all. Most years that date is two weeks before Thanksgiving. It has also shifted location from Old Town Pasadena to its present location on East Colorado Boulevard. The Light Bringer Project, a Pasadena-based non-profit arts group, has organized the parade since 1995.
“Why have I never done this?” pondered Andrew McGregor, a first-time attendee who marched along with the Radioactive Chicken Heads. “This is amazing!”