Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy May Day 2011!

One of the things I love about living in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis is the annual May Day Parade organized by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. Every year Twin Cities artists design and build puppets, floats, and costumes according to a different theme and march down Bloomington Avenue through South Minneapolis. The parade ends in Powderhorn Park right up the street from my house, where a ceremony is performed welcoming the return of the Sun, which is rowed across Powderhorn Lake from the island to the main stage area. The parade has been going on every year since 1975 and draws approximately 35,000 people. There aren't a lot of neighborhoods in the country that have anything quite that Pagan going on from year-to-year, let alone for such a huge and relatively mainstream crowd.

The parade always happens on the first Sunday in May after weeks of preparation, this year falling today on the 1st. That's the earliest in the season that it can ever happen and we've had a colder-than-usual spring, so it was no surprise that today was a pretty cold day for a parade. Some years, generally when the parade falls later, the weather can be quite warm, almost summer-like. But regardless of the temperature the parade goes on and crowds show up to see it. We have an open house every year for the parade since we live so close to the park, and our house provided some needed respite from the cold.

Despite the rigor of the seasons the Sun was successfully returned and a good time was had by all. I'm looking forward to things warming up considerably over the next week or so. I know, that's what would happen anyway - but I like to think that this yearly rite of spring helps things along.

Thanks to everyone who made it to our open house and thanks to the organizers for putting on this event, warm or cold, rain or shine, year-in and year-out. The parade is a truly unique event and a great showcase for local artistic talent, and its also rather amusing that a lot of the folks who show up just see it as this quirky artsy celebration rather than a genuine Pagan ritual.

At least a few of them would probably be a lot more offended if they had any idea what was really going on.

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