Sunday, May 5, 2019

May Day Parade 2019!

For those who don't know, my home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota is the site of a unique event that happens on the first Sunday in May - the MayDay Parade and Festival held at Powderhorn Park. This is a park that happens to be right next to my house, so we can enjoy the parade and festival without really leaving home.

This is not just any parade, either. It basically is a public pagan ritual that attracts twenty to thirty thousand people, and it has been going on since 1976. The parade travels through South Minneapolis, arriving at Powderhorn Park. There, a ritual is performed for the rebirth of the Sun, during which a huge Sun puppet is rowed from across the lake by attendants in canoes. This article from the local City Pages newspaper describes the event further.

Get ready for a mega-dose of joy, puppets, and community as In the Heart of the Beast hosts its annual MayDay Parade and Festival. With art bikes, giant puppets, stilt dancers, marching bands, costumed characters, flowers, and glitter, this is Minneapolis’ quintessential spring celebration. So find a spot on Bloomington Avenue for the parade, make your way to the Tree of Life Ceremony afterward, and stay for a festival filled with peace and love at Powderhorn Park.

MayDay is a must-see event, and a chance to revel in beauty, wonder, and social activism. This year, with news of HOBT’s financial struggles, you definitely won’t want to miss the party. If you can, be sure to give a donation to ensure this lovely event continues for years to come with help from the community. The parade starts at the corner of 25th Street East and Bloomington Avenue South, travels south on Bloomington to 34th Street East, and ends at Powderhorn Park.

The video above shows the "battle train," one of the most impressive floats (or really, a group of floats being pulled together like train cars) that I have seen. My friend Michele also took a bunch of Facebook videos of the parade, which you can find here, here, here, here, and here. As the quote mentions, there are looking to be some financial challenges if this event is going to continue next year. I think it's worthwhile - to my knowledge there is literally nothing like it anywhere in the United States.

The deal is that the organization that has been sponsoring the event for decades, In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, is having some financial problems and is doing fundraising towards next year's parade. If you are able to make a donation, you can do that here. We're all hoping that this fundraising effort will be successful and we will be able to keep enjoying the festival for years to come.

One idea that I had was to move the parade to a model like what's been going on in New Orleans for a very long time with their Mardi Gras parade. The parade is supported by "crewes" who create floats, costumes, decorations, and so forth. There are already a few groups up here who enter something in every parade - the "battle train" was built by a group who work out of a garage with a full metal shop a few blocks west of where I live, and there are a number of others. That might be a viable way forward, seeing as the New Orleans parade has been very successful.

Here's wishing you all a Happy MayDay! Hopefully there will be many more festivals to come.

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