Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hit Parade

If ever there was a time to finally bury the Confederacy, that time is now.

And if ever All the Saints Theater Company had been looking for a relevant theme for this year's Halloween parade, they'd have been hard pressed to do better than Funeral for the Confederacy.

Let's bury it and move on, shall we?

Besides remembering 2017 as the year parade organizers had no choice but to to address the nightmare that is race relations in this country, I'll also remember it as the year the parade set up on the steps of Cathedral of the Sacred Heart rather than across the street in Monroe Park - fenced off due to renovations and tree murder - like the past 11 years.

No one seemed to know if we actually had permission to stage the parade there, but at least the bishop didn't come out shaking his fist at us and telling us whippersnappers to get off his steps.

As happens every year, it took a while to get everything assigned to willing volunteers, mainly because so many people who showed up were unwilling to carry a sign or puppet. One friend, date in tow, gave me the lame excuse he doesn't like to carry anything ("That's why I use a backpack"), but he was only one of scores of people too lazy? too cool? too busy talking to their friends? to bother carrying one of the 100 pieces that All the Saints had crafted for display in the parade.

But Halloween is not about judging, so I'll just let their lack of effort slide for now.

My choice was a yard-long sign about defeating white supremacy. A woman dressed as a hooker in a fur jacket, daisy dukes and thigh-high red boots graciously agreed to carry one of the mouths that followed the white supremacist pizza in an attempt to gobble it up. But as it took longer and longer for the parade to get set up, she got impatient.

"Look, this is wasting time and time is money for me. I get $100 an hour and we're on my dime now. I should be flat on my back." She was kidding. I think.

Finally, No BS Brass Band kicked into high gear and organizer Lilly of All the Saints started waving her enormous yellow flag to signal that this year's parade was officially on the move under a waxing gibbous moon.

The pizza, mouths and I were just behind the Imperial Presidency group with multiple puppets of President No One and just in front of the Bones of Resistance and the Zombie String Band. Where we were particularly lucky was with the weather, which was neither too warm and sticky (2009), nor too windy (2010), nor raining (2011). It was Goldilocks just right.

Good thing, too, given the abundance of scanty costumes marching through Oregon Hill, like the woman in front of me wearing sheer black tights, lavender satin underwear on top of them, a crop top and silver glitter platforms. I've got no clue what she was supposed to be - a fashion disaster, perhaps? - but there wasn't much between her and a chilly breeze off the river.

Probably the cleverest costume I saw was a guy in a white trash can, the lid perched atop his head to complete his "white trash" disguise. How appropriate given the theme and the neighborhood's roots.

I caught up to my former neighbors to see that she was dressed as a broken doll and he - unwillingly and under duress - was going for an "undead" look with a white face, mussed hair and a heavy overcoat, the latter having been discovered by his wife in the closet of an old house 40 years ago. Surely there's something creepy about that.

One of the women carrying a mouth told me that she lives in California and was here visiting family when they told her about the parade. But it wasn't until she came down tonight that she discovered that there was a political theme to it and she was thrilled.

"That makes it so much more meaningful," she gushed. "I love that I can share my activism by being in a parade. This is just the coolest thing." She turned out to be one of the most animated mouths, too, eagerly trying to obliterate the evil pizza dancing in front of us.

A guy in front of me wore a kilt and carried his baby in a chest carrier and some drunken bystander down by the river spotted the kid and began shrieking in terror. "It's real!" he said, clearly surprised or perhaps just going for effect.

As we made the U-turn by the Oregon Hill overlook, a group of masked, black-clad people joined the parade just in front of me and the pizza gang. Before long, they were chanting, "No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!" and another chant about remembering Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer.

A few people looked put out by their injection of Antifa sentiment into the parade, but I've no doubt that Lilly would have welcomed more political commentary. They weren't being violent or even unpleasant, just chanting their concerns. I had no problem walking with them.

But then, I've been doing this parade since it was me and 60 people in 2008 and last year it was me and 1800. This was the first year I saw a drone flying above the parade with a ghost hanging from its undercarriage.

"No more drones! No more drones!" someone began chanting. "No more ghosts! No more ghosts!" another group called out. Why hadn't they chanted, "No more bubbles! No more bubbles! " when we'd walked through a fog of bubbles being generated earlier?

Well, duh, because who doesn't love bubbles? For that matter, who doesn't love a parade? Especially one committed to moving Richmond beyond the legacy of the *#!*! Confederacy.

For crying out loud, a woman in thigh high red boots was so determined to be part of tonight's funeral, she took time off from work to carry a mouth and march for the cause (Rest in shame, Confederacy).

(Cue American flag blowing in the breeze)
We should all be so willing to give of ourselves. Honey, those were four inch heels.


  1. Actually the Confederacy is buried -- all over & under Richmond. Why people just don't let it stay that way is a mystery to me. Richmond has it's place in history as ground zero in the long ago American Civil War. Like Washington, London, St. Petersburg, Paris it is a city of monuments citing that particular period in time. It's skyscrapers downtown, it's rebirth of Church Hill, Jackson Ward, the riverfront are statements in a way to our continued growth as a new Richmond. This city can & should encompass all...and of course it's people, it's citizens. You're a part of this...you know what I'm taking about.


  2. Even though I've been here 31 years, I do feel like part of new Richmond.