The silly parade is super-sizing.
The annual “Strut the Hooch” novelty parade through downtown is growing like an adolescent at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Maybe the band will play “76 Trombones” from the musical “The Music Man.” That would really be something, because you know you’re in “the big parade” when the song lyrics say so. And the next “Strut the Hooch” could be the biggest one yet.
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“Our attendance has grown from 26 the first year, to 100 the second to over 200 last year,” says parade founder Steve Scott. “I anticipate that we could have more this year.”
More clowns, more dancers, more characters, more contraptions.
“Last year we had a kazoo band, belly dancers, folks from Liberia in native dress, prancing fauns, the Piggly Wiggly pig, mascots, clowns, superheroes, a ‘Ghostbusters’ body float, Ralph Frank’s Machu Picchu rolling cart thingy, a dragon from the CSU theater, a 10-person roller coaster, roller-derby girls, whitewater guides and many, many more,” Steve says. “What’s so fun is that everyone ‘got it’!”
What’s there to get?
Good question: “People often ask me ‘What’s the point?’ ” Steve says.
The point is to get together, cut loose, have a good time, and try to enjoy each other’s company. For a change.
“There is so much evil and meanness in the world, and we are so angry and divisive, yet we live in the greatest country in the world,” he says. “I wanted to create an event where people could get together, celebrate our differences, love each other and just be fun and goofy for half an hour.”
“I am trying to weave the personality of the parade – eccentric, creative, bizarre, hilarious, joy of life – into the fabric of what downtown-Uptown is becoming,” Steve says.
A new addition this year will be horses: “We have equestrian groups planning to come. … One from Columbus and one from Opelika,” he says. “We are also considering adding pets, but they must be costume.”
The parade’s growing so fast that participants can help by checking in ahead of time – especially if they’re considering anything elaborate, like a float. A Mardi Gras float from LaGrange is expected this year.
They can email Steve at email@example.com with their name, parade concept and contact info. “We like people to register so we can structure the parade – horses at the end, et cetera – and to keep in touch with them and continue to promote and provide info,” he says.
He has not set a deadline for sign-ups: “We tried that. It didn’t work. People in Columbus don’t like to have to actually ‘do’ anything. They just like to show up.”
“Last year I had a guy call me at a quarter to midnight: ‘Hey buddy, is it too late to register?’ I said no, what you got? ‘A tandem bike. I’m gonna send in my name and email, but my bike partner ain’t got no email ’cause he’s a skeleton!’ ”
Speaking of naked bodies, Steve reminds everyone the parade is rated PG, not R or any letters farther up the alphabet.
Participants should be spry enough to make the trek, which starts by the Springer Opera House at First Avenue and 10th Street, goes west to Broadway, turns north on Broadway to 13th Street, then turns around and comes back south to Ninth Street, where it U-turns again and ends on 10th Street.
That’s a lot of brass-banding.
So, what about “76 Trombones”? Did the band send a playlist?
“We don’t have one,” Steve says. “Last year we had a Dixieland band, pipe-and-drum corps and various strolling musicians.”
He figures the Army brass band probably plays marches.
Maybe someone will dress up as “Dr. Sousa.”