Jul 24, 2009

Ohio Swing Voters in the Doo Dah Parade!

If you live in Columbus and you’ve never seen the Doo Dah Parade, you are missing out! It’s a very loosely organized (you just show up) Fourth of July parade that REALLY celebrates freedom. The freedom to dress in funny outfits, sling puns around recklessly, and poke fun at politics. And march down the street wearing a red metallic speedo, if that’s your thing. (It’s not my thing but I support your right to do that sort of thing…)

Anyway, the parade is free and there’s no registration process, so you just show up and get in line. Awesome. I grew up in Columbus and somehow never heard of this tradition that has been going on for 26 years! Since discovering it a few years ago, I’ve been wanting to be IN the parade. This year my wish came true, thanks to my dancing friends who were kind enough to roll out of bed early on a holiday with smiles on their faces and not a hint of resentment towards me for dragging them into it.

The theme we had come up with was ‘Ohio Swing Voters’ to poke fun at our great state’s glorious reputation in the last few presidential elections. We had 5 dancers, a wagon, a piece of posterboard, some sharpie markers, and a boombox. Right before the parade we were down on hands and knees scribbling our slogans on white t-shirts and slathering on the sunscreen. Our shirts said “Ohio Swing Voters”, “I SWING BOTH WAYS”, “????UNDECIDED????”, and that sort of thing.

We lined up a few places behind the ‘swine flu’ group in their hospital gowns and pig noses, and ahead of the zombie wedding group. Optimus sub-Prime walked by while we waited. When the parade got going, I realized quickly that my friends were going to hate me after about 2 blocks. The pace was a lot faster than it had seemed when I watched in previous years. And we were doing this the hard way- dancing instead of walking. I may as well have asked them to do cartwheels for 10 blocks.

We dug deep within ourselves and danced the whole 1.2 miles! (Mostly!) With 5 people it worked out to have one person pull the wagon while 2 couples danced. It was challenging figuring out how to keep up with the parade while dancing, but our theme got lots of laughs. We could hear people reading our t-shirts and signs out loud as they were trying to figure out why the heck we were dancing. It was EXHAUSTING but we made it and nobody seemed to hate me afterwards. In fact, we’re going to make it a tradition!

Four of us made it into a slide show on the Columbus Dispatch’s website, and we heard rumors of news coverage too, but have no idea what network. Comment if you know!

For next year, we’re making a few improvements. We’re going to have a car (or a band- anyone?) for our music instead of a boombox. Turns out boomboxes are not very good amplifiers in large, open spaces. We’re also bringing a lot more water and a lot more people. Join us next year!!

(my advice if you want to do the parade is simple: water+sunscreen+good shoes. You’ll thank me later)
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