The Weird and Wonderful Fool’s Parade in Occidental continues after 2-year pandemic hiatus

With wriggling hips, billowing batons, strutting stilts and all manner of whimsical and colorful outfits, jingling accessories and bracelets, the unique and iconic Fool’s Parade returned to Occidental on Saturday amidst the redwoods of West County. after a pandemic-forced two-year haiti.

By all accounts, the parade, organized by the Occidental Center for the Arts, was a success, with one of the highest turnouts that many veteran organizers could remember. Although billed on a poster as the 17th annual Parade of Fools, a precise story of the event and its origins was hard for a reporter to pin down as jazz music played, parade-goers danced and silliness general dominated the day.

“It’s been different things from year to year, but the core is always a parade through town,” said Patrick Fanning, chairman of the center’s board, “a parade of fools.”

Marchers in the parade on Saturday were led by The Hubbub Club marching band, a volunteer community group dedicated to New Orleans-style street jazz that included at least 16 musicians, according to band member Dan Bosch from Sebastopol, as well as dancers from second row following the players. . The Hubbub Club has been playing the event since 2008, Fanning said.

Several organizers trace the Fool’s Parade’s roots to the 1970s, when musician, writer, and Western character Ramón Sender marched down the street dressed as Zero the Clown, gathering marchers behind him and issuing “tickets” to those who did not. wouldn’t make fun of him. his jokes.

“It grew, until everyone thought it was a good idea to put on a suit and be silly on a particular day,” said 79-year-old Western resident Diane Masura.

Traditionally held on the Saturday after April Fool’s Day, the 2020 parade was canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic roared with frightening speed. In 2021, the club kept the parade canceled in an ongoing effort to curb the spread of the virus. This year, OCA executive director Tina Marchetti said it was a scramble to speed up the event, with Sonoma County permit approval for the parade not coming until Friday. The resulting turnout on a warm early spring day under clear, sunny skies was more than worth it, she said.

“I knew people were so ready for this,” Marchetti said.

Indeed, they were.

“When else can I put my ‘do’?” asked Annie Floy Lovell, 67, from Guerneville who sported orange foam locks of hair wrapped around big pink curlers.

“I haven’t seen anyone without a smile,” she said.

You can reach editor Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or [email protected] On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

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