Big Parade gets even bigger
“I love the parade,” said senior Mindi Rock. “It gives you purpose. We’re all doing really intense stuff this year.”
“It’s like my senior project,” agreed senior Allison Shauger. “It’s a combination of a lot of the values you learn in college, like community building and fun.”
The parade is, of course, the Big Parade, taking place April 30. Rock and Shauger have worked on it for three years and are now the main organizational force behind this four year old annual event.
“There really is no organizational body,” remarked Rock. “It’s just people who’ve seen it before and want to be involved. Everybody does what they’re good at. We’re not the co-chairs of the parade. That doesn’t exist.”
Shauger described the structure behind planning the parade as “sort of hazy, because it’s so decentralized.”
“There’s half a dozen people involved in planning,” said Rock. “We originally called ourselves the steering committee but it didn’t really turn out to be.
“Towards the end, a lot more people start showing up to more meetings and more people want to help out,” said Shauger.
Also working to put together the event is the Big Parade Exco, which is much more involved than in years past. And, despite the unstructured nature of the process, the planning is going very smoothly.
“We’ve got a lot of money this year,” said Shauger. “We fundraised very successfully. That’s been nice.
“Last year there was a huge scramble to get really simple facility issues worked out, like tables, chairs, grills,” said Rock. “This year, we already knew about that. It was so easy. I feel like we’re more official this year.”
“Allison has a lot of connections with local food,” she added. “We’re ordering hamburgers and hot dogs from Ohio Farm Direct, who OSCA buys from. There’s apple cider from Miller’s Orchard. Of course, the co-ops will cook food.”
This year the parade route is going to go around Tappan Square so as to take advantage of the festival that traditionally takes place there.
“I think the festival is going to be bigger this year,” said Rock.
Aside from sack races, a pie-eating contest, face-painting and horses there will also be a lot of performances.
“There are two stages,” said Shauger. “There will be music consistently on both stages for three hours. We’re also trying to set up spaces for improv, a cappella and a magic show.”
Specific parade floats are unpredictable. “We always get people who just show up that day and want to be in the parade and it’s a total surprise,” said Rock. “A 50th Oberlin High School reunion group is going to be riding in a hay wagon with the current OHS marching band. There’s been talk of a pirate ship. There are a lot of animals. We’ve got a turtle. These kids are building a whale. We’re sort of leaning towards an aquatic theme.”
“There’s going to be snail costumes,” added Shauger. “Because snails are funny.”
Two stand-out entries are being constructed by the Allen Art Museum and Lara Dahle, a resident of Oberlin, .
“The museum is building a cherry blossom tree,” said Rock. “It’s going to be the best put-together float ever. They’re meticulously crafting every part. It’s in collaboration with Langston.”
The exact form of Dahle’s contribution is a little unclear right now. It’s just being called “Lost Socks.”
“She’s theorized that all the socks that people lose, for example in the laundry, go to sock heaven,” said Allison. “It’s like an installation. She’s a star float-builder.”
Additionally, something good should be expected from Kendall, the retirement home in Oberlin.
“Kendall’s amazing,” said Rock. “Emphasis on amazing.”
“Last year they did a lawn chair precision drill team,” said Shauger.
“There’s the Wooster bagpipe band,” said Rock. “Because Allison says it isn’t a parade without bagpipes.”
Most of what happens at the parade is the result of individual initiative taken by College and town organizations, not the specific engineering of the “steering committee.”
“One of the main challenges is advertising to the community,” said Shauger. “Maybe it wouldn’t be as hard if the parade was all we were doing. It’s easy and important to get College groups involved. It’s harder to reach the town and that’s the whole point of the parade.”
“We have a lot of organizations we’ve worked with before,” said Rock. “MAD Factory and FAVA are doing costume-making and face-painting at the festival.”
Float building workshops are taking place this Saturday, 1-4 p.m. at the ice rink. Those people who wake up with a desire on the 30th can show up at 10 a.m. at Eastwood Elementary School.
“The people who started the parade graduated two years ago,” said
Shauger. “The parade is what you make of it.”