For as long as I can remember, the city of Kalamazoo has held an art fair the first weekend of June, and to kick off the festival they hold the Do-Dah Parade downtown on the first Saturday of June at 11am. Many years has my family attended this parade, and since I'm back in Michigan now, I was very excited to join the newest generation of the Coburn Clan in watching the tom foolery.
There is no special holiday that the Do-Dah parade celebrates, only silliness. It is reminiscent of the medieval feasts of fools where everything was turned on its head for a day, and everyone was allowed to let loose and be ridiculous. The parade this year began with a large gaggle of young girl scouts dressed as caricatures of the elderly - canes, walkers, wheel chairs, gray wigs, old dressing gowns, curlers in their hair, etc. In the words of Disney, topsy-turvy.
Many local schools are represented, such as my alma mater Western Michigan University. A few years ago, the summer before moving to California, I marched in the Do-Dah Parade with a bunch of former WMU classmates to represent the first ever Kalamazoo Pride event. (Our theme was "Over the Rainbow" and we were dressed as modern-day versions of the Wizard of Oz cast. I was the Wicked Witch of the West and held a Swiffer rather than a broom.) Anyone can have a float in the parade provided they pay the modest entry fee. This is how I sometimes learn new things about my hometown while watching the parade. Like that Kalamazoo has its own curling club!
Some of the other memorable floats I saw were a large group of kids dressed up as Jedi warriors, Princess Leias, and a Darth Vader behind a sign that read "If you don't do dah crime, you won't do dah time." The kids were obviously having a lot of fun with their plastic lightsabers and waving at all the parade watchers.
That is what the Do-Dah Parade is all about - fun! People running around in goofy costumes while promoting their own unique corner of their community and passing out candy to all the excited kids on the sidelines.
Once the crowds from the parade have dispersed, it's off to the art fair! The event used to only consume Bronson Park, but over the years, it has spread to the nearby "mall," the shops along Burdick St that once was the first outdoor walking mall in America (now it's a one-way street). This was also Greek Fest weekend, and between the two festivities, many bands came to play in town, like Hoobastank, Rubber Soul, and the Verve Pipe. Only Greek Fest costs money, so if you find yourself near Kalamazoo next June, you need to head downtown!
The Kalamazoo Public Library also has a huge book sale that weekend. All books, even hardcovers, were only ten cents each, or you could purchase a paper grocery bag for $2 and fill it up with as many books as would fit. I picked up four books that I might not have bought if they hadn't been a dime each. It's really hard not to buy something for that cheap!
While downtown, I also came across a newspaper dispenser shaped like a robot. He made me want to buy a newspaper, let me tell you! I only had dimes, though, so I didn't get one. (Sorry, Mr. Robot.)