The Doo Dah Parade

Apr 21, 2011

Wacky, irreverent, weird, silly, anarchistic . . . is that not how you’d describe Pasadena? No, it’s not, and that’s the whole point of our “other” parade, the Doo Dah, the rebellious stepsister and antidote to the grand dame, the Rose Parade. As an all-city goof, it’s so successful that other towns around the country have spun off their own Doo Dah Parades. And we’re flattered.

For most of its life, the Doo Dah was always on a Sunday (the Rose Parade, never!)—typically, the Sunday just before Thanksgiving, unless they didn’t feel like doing it then, in which case it might have been a month or three later. Lately it’s been happening in the spring, and in 2010, the organizers decided it was too staid to stay in Old Town, where it had been for decades, so they up and moved it to East Pasadena. It starts at, oh, 11ish, leading one to assume that the Doo Dah was hatched by some guys who had too many Saturday-night drinks back in the ’70s, when Pasadena was Funky Town.

Sometimes disorganized, usually raucous, occasionally political, the parade takes about two hours to see all 1,500 to 2,000 participants who walk the route, which at least for now is on Colorado Boulevard between Sierra Madre and San Gabriel. Changing the dates and location has led to smaller crowds, but there’s hope that this year some 45,000 people will come out to view, some of whom are snowbirds in RVs, but most of whom are locals.

Past parade favorites include the Synchronized Briefcase Marching Drill Team, the Dead Rose Queens, Claude Rains and the 20-Member (we think) Invisible Man Marching Drill Team, the BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grillers (who send projectile cooked hot dogs into the crowd), the Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team, Tequila Mockingbird, the Spawn of Captain James T. Kirk, the Howdy Krishnas, the Toast Masters (who throw toast), the Grand Old Hags and Linoleum Bonaparte.

This 2005 Doo Dah Queen's talents included fire juggling. Photo by Terry Miller.

Is it open to every Joan and Joe with a T-bone steak hat and the $10 participant’s fee? Why yes it is, as long as their float isn’t motorized or horse-driven. There are no themes and no commercials (because it’s not televised), and the only judging is to select a Doo Dah Queen, which happens a few weeks before the parade. The Light Bringer Project, which has been running the parade since 1994, says the queen must be “pretty audacious to stand out” in this group of revelers. Belly dancing and fire spewing are a good start. But she’s got to be funny, too. After all, this is the Doo Dah Parade.

(And note that there are, of course, multiple after parties. The unofficial official one for 2011 will be at the American Legion, 179 N. Vinedo Ave.: cheap food, cheap drinks, $5 cover and live music by the Doo Dah’s reigning band, Snotty Scotty & the Hankies. Just like at Wolfgang Puck’s Oscar after party.)

Doo Dah Parade
2011 Parade: Saturday, April 30, 11 a.m.
Colorado Blvd. between Sierra Madre & San Gabriel



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena