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Ann Arbor's "FestiFools" April Parade: Wow!

April 16, 2009

Martha and Lucy went to Ann Arbor last week to visit friends and they all went downtown to see some sort of wacky parade. And this is what they found. Amazing!

There's what a parade is meant to be!

OK, there's a parade for all seasons, but this wild-art homegrown kind is one I hope we see more of.

Here's their homepage:


According to their site, and word on the street, a U of M art school prof learned about making huge, rowdy, ribald papier-mâché puppets on a trip to Italy. (I like saying "pop-ee-ay mash-ay." A bit of Carnivale! Actually, these kinds of things seem to pop up in folk cultures everywhere where the people have the right to express themselves in the public/civic space. That's what we need! More people, less cars!

...Coz ya know, the only reason why we don't have such stuff already in the USA is plain and simple: cars.

(...And the reason for cars, which was the desire for huge travel across a huge country where people were rich enough to get away from each other rather than learn manners, or learn how to deal with those who didn't have manners. "Hell is other people," after all, some say.)

But people are now ready to make their move.

Now, all these new parades need is BIKES and SMALL STREETS! : )

(Here's a link to an OYB report on a couple parades I was involved with: outyourbackdoor.com/article.php?id=221.)

The FestiFools website "About Us" info is super. Here's my distillation of how it came to be...

FestiFools strives to bring students and community volunteers together to create unique public art that is free and accessible to everyone.

Mark Tucker, who teaches art at the University of Michigan, began his professional artistic career as Art Director for the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade. While in this role, Mark traveled to Europe to learn the fine art of carta pesta (papier-mâché) in Italy.

Inspired by their magnificent, huge, bizarre, politically incorrect, human-powered floats, Mark decided to see if this kind of creative energy could find an audience back home.

In 2006 he teamed up with Shoshana Hurand, a former LHSP student, who saw the hands-on creation of public art as a great opportunity for people of different backgrounds to build relationships, learn from one another, and make their voices heard by the world.

Starting with a class of 20 non-art majors, they went to work — welcoming students, community members, and anyone looking for a chance to be creative and meet new people.

On April 1, 2007, FestiFools exploded onto Ann Arbor’s Main Street with Stomp-like music courtesy of U-M student group GROOVE, and hundreds of participants from across the community.

"We were greeted as liberators!"

Mayor John Hieftje presented us with a Golden Paintbrush Award (for excellence in public art) — upon the condition that FestiFools return in 2008 as an annual, Ann Arbor tradition.

What a neat example of Gown, Town and People doing something carefree, uplifting and fun together!

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