Same Street, Different Parade

November 30, 2006
The Doo-Dah parade parodies the Tournament of Roses and offers a counterpoint to tradition.

I’m learning that one of the dangers of writing blogs is that I get sidetracked. I start innocently enough wanting to write just a few comments. Before I know it, I’ve spent a long time surfing the Internet for information that is only tangentially related to the topic at hand, but of interest to me. It isn’t long before more time has passed than I ever intended to spend on blogging, which is why I don’t intend to write posts every day.

Today is a perfect example. I was looking at pictures to illustrate this entry and chose this one of a saucer-shaped balloon that was part of an entry in a parade. It says Wanting to read more about the Raelians, I checked out their website and was fascinated with this sect, cult or movement (take your pick) and the number of members (60,000 worldwide, according to their statistics).

The more I read, the more I was struck with how often we believe in things that seem outrageous. As someone once said, one man’s religion is another man’s madness. So if you are one of the Raelians, I would be interested in knowing why you believe that Claude Vorilhon, a former French journalist, who now calls himself Rael, is a direct descendant of extraterrestrials who created human life on Earth through genetic engineering. Do you believe he spoke with a 4-foot-tall, green-skinned, long-haired, oval-eyed alien who directed him to write a book revealing the identities of these aliens as the creators of human beings? And do you believe that Clonaid, a company founded by Raelians, cloned the first human, a 7-pound baby girl dubbed “Eve?” Do you believe that eventually the group will be able to create adult clones into which humans can transfer their brains to create eternal life? Do you believe that “Raelian girls are ready to help Catholic Priests rediscover their sexuality” and “Inhibition of sex leads to violence?”

You can see why I was distracted by a website that had little to do with the rest of what I wanted to say.

Anyway, this is the third, and last, blog entry arising out of the Los Angeles Times on November 20th. The first  was a suggestion for a constitutional amendment. The second was on how I express gratitude each day. And now this is about an article about the Doo Dah Parade in Pasadena, California. I had attended this event the day before, as a niece came to visit on that Sunday before Thanksgiving, and it seemed like a fun thing to watch the annual event.

The picture that illustrated the article in the paper was that of a man who looked just like Fester in the Adamms Family cartoons. For those who don’t know, the Adamms Family, a creation of cartoonist Charles Adamms, is, as Wikipedia notes, “a satirical inversion of the ideal of the perfect American nuclear family, they are an eccentric wealthy family who delight in everything grotesque and macabre, and are never really aware that people find them bizarre or frightening.”

Well, it turns out that in Pasadena we have a lively group of people who acknowledge their parade is eccentric, grotesque, and a little macabre—exactly as they plan it. For an hour and a half a rag-tag of participants stroll down part of the same route taken by the well-known, well-rehearsed, reserved and formal Tournament of Roses parade. Rather than delight the crowds with flower-bedecked floats and large bands from around the world, they amuse the crowds with exotic arrangements.

Colorful guruThere is the 20-Man Memorial Invisible Man Marching Drill Team (although they’re a little hard to see and never heard), a YMCA group with children dressed in the costumes of Dr. Seuss, and the Red Hat Ladies. Then there was the Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team that carried a sign proclaiming, “Don’t Just Stand There, Do Nothing.” They stopped periodically to put their pillows on the ground and take a nap (which tends to slow down the parade a bit, but no one minds)

A little frivolity and just plain silliness was precisely what the doctor ordered and I enjoyed the parade immensely. My favorite was this guru who danced down the street shouting, “Peace and joy to everyone,” in a cheerful, flasetto voice. Anyone who can’t enjoy themselves when a man in a golden robe is offering them the blessing of peace on an unseasonably warm November day needs to take a break and join a parade.

If you were an entry in the Doo Dah Parade, what would you want to be?

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