What a Long, Strange…

Aug 13, 2012

Photo by Hilary McHone (Brooklyn Hilary at, 2011 Doo Dah Parade

“What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: 35 Years of the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade.”

Yes, that’s quite a mouthful. But it also makes sense; our local Doo Dah Parade is a spectacle that assaults all of our senses.

Our eyes widen as we see a table set for eight, complete with china, hot food, and gown- and tuxedo-donned diners, moving along the parade route on wheels with a crystal chandelier swinging over their heads.

Our ears labor to differentiate all the sounds, from a marching band and Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver” amplified from a truck bed to a bicycling violinist.

That smell you smell could be coming from the scorched throat of a roaming fire eater or the product of “nature’s call” from a parading elephant (we admit, the latter olfactory bouquet reeks from the early days of the parade).

Your sense of touch is in play when you get unceremoniously smacked with a flying tortilla (marshmallows have been outlawed because they do a number to bicycle spokes), and your taste buds always find satisfaction at the after party held at the American Legion (East Pasadena Post 280) or (this past year) from the variety of food trucks in the Chefs Center parking lot.

Now after 35 years, the Pasadena Museum of History, in collaboration with the parade’s owner and producer Light Bringer Project, is hosting a retrospective of Doo Dah, complete with photos, video, costumes, and various memorabilia. Also, anybody with a photo from Doo Dah can tack a copy on the bulletin board, reflecting Doo Dah’s emphasis on community and desire to create an interactive experience.

Named after an “obscure” 1960s British rock band, Doo Dah is the “people’s parade.” Anyone can sign up to walk, ride, drive, roll, spin, or twirl the route. There is no seniority, no pecking order. The determining factor for who’s first in line at the head of the parade is simply who first shows up; truly an egalitarian maxim that’s not often employed nowadays.

It is written: “Dr. Denise Lawrence, Director of the Center for Visual Anthropology at USC, asserted that the parade demonstrated the ‘rite of reversal,’ which anthropologists have found to occur in many societies, primitive and modern. These rites provide individuals with an opportunity to step outside their normal everyday social roles and relationships to engage in alternate forms of behavior.”

Enough said.

(Well, except for “Long Live Doo Dah!”)

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been
Opening Reception, Saturday, August 18, 6-8 p.m., free!
Continuing Show: Wednesday, August 15 through Sunday, January 13th (2013!)
Pasadena Museum of History, 470 W. Walnut Street
Hours: noon-5 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays
Admission: $7 general; $6 students & seniors; free for members and kids under 12
For complete info, visit 

Editor’s Note: take advantage of “community Wednesday” when anyone who lives in the area (see PMH website for complete listing) gets in free. At the ticket booth, mention this offer and show some sort of identification.



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