The Olympic Games have their monomyth – the lighting of the Olympic torch at Mount Olympus, Greece, and its transport to the site of the games somewhere else in the world. Torchbearing is good public relations, that brings a lot of public interest resulting in ticket sales and, more importantly, passive television viewing. It also provides historiosity, an intertwined package of ersatz-historic fact, pseudo-myth and quasi-designed torches. Paloma Faith is a typical torchbearer. In her photo from the 2012 London (England) Olympics, below, she demonstrates the Olympic ideals – skyhigh patent red heels, custom white tracksuit, bare midriff with belly jewelry. If only I knew something about designer sunglasses, hair fashions and makeup, I could comment on all those items too. It doesn’t matter that the flame is missing, when so many other important elements are included.
Each community, of course, has its own myths that are equally valid to promote. Those that never had, or have lost, their myths, can always invent new or adopt different ones.
One way for communities to show their spirit is to hold parades that emphasize the mathematical equation: Unity = Cooperation + (the joy of) Diversity.
If one googles “unique parades” one of the first items listed takes you to Huffpost Women, and an article titled Weird and Wacky Parades from Around the World. The first parade listed, “The Mermaid Parade celebrates the sand, the sea, the beginning of summer, and the history and mythology of Coney Island.” Alas, a disappointing parade, just like the two next ones on their list: Running of the Nudes and Go Blonde Parade.
For those of you who were directed here because a search engine found the phrase “mermaid parade” you will be disappointed. This blog is far too honest and un-American to show a female breast with its nipple covered by a miniature sea shell. I have never understood why it is acceptable to display 98% of a breast, but unacceptable to show 2%, consisting of its only working part. The Cony Island (NY, USA) Mermaid Parade will not be discussed further. I gave more serious consideration to including the “Running of the Nudes” through the streets of Pamplona (Spain). This is a more compassionate and fun remake of the “Corrida de toros” or “Running of the Bulls.” I particularly liked their slogan, “Out with the old, in with the nude!” Again, this blog is not in the business of providing gratuitous nudity, even if the purpose of the run is the promotion of animal welfare.
Also missing from this list is the Riga (Latvia) Go Blonde Parade. I appreciate blondes. In fact I appreciate all natural hair colours. I am less enthusiastic about dyed hair, be it black as a replacement for gray, or bright red/ green/ blue as a replacement for mouse brown. My main objection with Go Blonde type of parades is that they exclude non-blondes. Some of my best friends are non-blondes, and I would want them to participate on equal footing in any parade.
Pets (believe they) are people! Many feel they should be included in parades. Naturally, Homo sapiens with pet allergies are not always in agreement. At the Port of Los Angeles there is an annual Lobster Festival, with a Lobsterdog Parade as a highlight.
Parades, like most cultural artifacts, morph! While searching for an appropriate photo of Lobsterdog, I came across an almost iconic photo of a costumed pooch. It appears to be from the Lakewood, Ohio Pet-Tique Spooky Pooch Parade, in 2010. Not being a dog psychologist, whisperer, trainer or owner I have very little understanding of dog feelings, especially when they are subjected to humanoid whims. However, the mutt in the photo looks sad, and is undoubtedly aware of his loss of dignity.
Houston Car Art Parade
Cars are (treated as) people. Since 1984, some 250,000 people (not all certified psychiatric cases) watch over 250 vehicles. It started when Texas artist Jackie Harris spent $800 transforming a 1967 Ford station wagon into a “fruitmobile”.
There are countless variants: The Friday night “cruise” immortalized in American Graffiti, and countless other tedious teen films; Annual car parades featuring, in alphabetical order, classic cars, hot rods, muscle cars, sports cars, station wagons, touring cars, veteran cars. Most of these variations focus on preservation of past technology, a few allow owners to improve – or at least change it. The big difference with Houston is that the parade focuses on the creation of automotive art.
Now we come to one of my favorite parades, Bosch! I’ll let the organizers describe it in their own words. “Every June, since 2010, the waters of ’s-Hertogenbosch provide the venue for the Bosch Parade. A wondrous armada of vessels and objects inspired by the work and ideas of Medieval painter Jheronimus [sic] Bosch. Artists from all disciplines (art, theatre, dance, music, architecture) collaborate with groups of enthusiastic amateurs and volunteers to create this artistic, water-borne parade. This spawns not only a creative floating parade by and for the city, but also an extensive creativity network throughout the city.”
The Olympic Games have their opening and closing ceremonies. Universal Athletics can have as many or as few parades as people want. Hopefully, this will provide some inspiration.