Cleveland – November 2018 – Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)

In Mexican culture the Day of the Dead is celebrated the first two days of November. This celebration honors the memory of those who have passed on.

Presented by the Cleveland Public Theater and Artistas Latinos Unios, Cleveland has had a Dia de Muertos for 14 years.

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Most participants paint their faces.

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While it might seem morbid, it is in fact a joyous occasion that is intended to dispel fear of death and embracing the cycle of life.

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In Cleveland many non Latino people participated.

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While most had face paintings, traditionally hand made clay skulls are also used.

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The Cleveland Public Theater is housed in a former church. Inside they had a number of exhibits set up.

This young lady had one honoring her family.

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As did this young lady. Note in the back numerous photos and offerings to her deceased family members. Throughout the church/theater and outside in the ‘pop up’ cemetery were a number of such altars (known in Spanish as ofrendas)

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One of the event coordinators was ready.

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It was a really cool event, with lots of great looks.

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Stylish and macabre at the same time.

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Finally it was time for the procession to begin…..

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One of the bands lead the march.

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Anyone who had signed up and was in ‘costume’ could participate.

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Some clearly had spent more time putting together their look.

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One of my favorites.

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Many entire families participated.

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This young lady had the face painting but the rest of her family wore the masks.

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Happy skeletons!

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The origins date back thousands of years and coincide with the annual harvest. It combined Aztec and Christian practices.

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Today is has become so popular in the United States even places like Party City sell merchandise for the celebration, although these ladies clearly did better than going down the local Party City.

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Not sure why, but it seems every Cleveland parade has a number of people on stilts. But what’s not to like in a 10′ skeleton lady coming down Detroit Avenue!

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More stilted skeletons.

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A few had more simple masks, which this guy used to accent his great suit.

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Historically in Cleveland most of the Latinos were Puerto Rican, but they too have embraced the event.

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Also participating was a Horse Drawn Funeral Carriage. Note the very stylish job on the horse’s hooves.

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The carriage had a mannequin complete with mask.

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Dia de Mertos was a fantastic event – I can’t wait for next November. Look for one in a city near you.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Back to the Furries

It’s July – It’s Pittsburgh – That can only mean one thing – THE FURRIES ARE BACK!

 

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You see them everywhere – in the hotel.

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Wandering the streets.

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Looking cool on the escalator.

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Purrrrr (not so sure about the skeleton suit though – didn’t have the nerve to ask).

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Where could all these furry people/animals be going?

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Cramming into the elevator.

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Calling their other furry friends.

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Looking out for each other with giant eyes.

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Hey lady – a little help with my tail please, I am in a hurry ….

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To gather together to get ready for the highlight – The Furry Parade! (to be fair I found this balcony where I could see them gathering and was promptly kicked out as they said it was off limits because furries don’t like to have their photos taken with their heads off 🙂

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Kicked out of the overview, we made our way downstairs to find a good spot for the parade. A few furries were still making their way to the hall but still stop for photos.

It is immediately obvious if you are going to dress in a furry animal outfit you want your photo taken – so it is the easiest gathering anywhere to get people/animals/whatever to pose.

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And with that the lead furry bangs his symbol and the parade starts.

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Strutting their stuff.

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High fives from this (fill in the blank – I don’t know)

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Some came close by to say hi.

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Ta- Da

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A paw wave was very popular too.

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More ‘Ta Da’

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Hoping the rose wasn’t for me.

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Name that animal.

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The band (yes they were playing their instruments in their furry suits).

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This couple had matching wing suits. She (?) took a tumble and the crowd went ‘oohh’. When he (?) helped her (?) up they went ‘ahhh’. Fur Suit RomCom.

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A local.

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There were a few ‘non furries’. While this, and other things we did this weekend, were repeats, they are totally worth seeing a second time. And thus began our repeat weekend in the Burgh.

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Columbus – July 2018 – It’s Doo Dah Time Again

July 4th in Columbus can only mean one thing – It’s Doo Dah time again – let’s have a parade.

As usual there is some political satire.

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Some play on words (read the sign)

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Characters

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Apparently now since Mexico is off limits we now get our weed from Canada

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The block party was going full tilt.

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More characters

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Primed for the parade.

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The toaster car lady in a moment of reflection.

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Clearly the saddest thing this country has recently done is the separation of children at the border – you knew this would be called out today.

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More characters.

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The wrestlers are here every year, but always welcome.

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For some it was just too much.

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The Grand Marshal.

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An eclectic band.

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I think we missed her at the washboard music festival a few weeks back.

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One of the ‘art cars’

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Miss Liberty made an appearance.

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An alien made it across the border to join the band.

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Even more characters.

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Mixing sci-fi and political satire.

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Mixing middle aged hula dancers with zombies.

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The neighborhood (Short North) is undergoing tremendous growth where they are tearing down 2 floor buildings along High Street and replacing them with 8-12 floor buildings. All of the construction is causing much chaos in the area, and making just walking around tough with all of the closed sidewalks.

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Not really sure.

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The whole stupid MAGA thing has spawned a number of parodies.

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They may protest but they are as patriotic as the rest of the country – they just believe it could be better for all.

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A dancer from the Rocky Horror Picture Show burlesque group.

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Even the Swing Dancers of Columbus were making statements this year.

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And with that the zombies headed home and the parade was done.

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Cincinnati – June 2018 – Hyde Park Blast

The Hyde Park Blast is a fundraiser for cancer research that has been held in this Cincinnati neighborhood for the last 17 years.

One of the highlights of the Blast is a day of bicycle racing.

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While the racing takes place all day we were able to watch two of the 45 minute long races – including the Intermediate Men’s race.

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The course was a mile loop up and down Erie Avenue, the main street in the neighborhood.

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At the far end they made a turn through a couple of the side streets.

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Hyde Park has always been one of the nicer areas of the city. Note in the background someone tore down one of the classic old houses to build a large modern house. While I love this type of architecture, there is a place and this clearly isn’t it – they must have thought they were in Seattle.

Still it makes a nice background for the racers.

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Coming down the small hill and making the turn back onto Erie Avenue.

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The racing was close throughout.

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The intensity is shown on the faces of the racers.

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And a final sprint to the finish.

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The second race we saw was a women’s race, including the Ohio State championship.

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One of the racers took off ahead of the pack and built a 20 second lead.

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Only to eventually be caught.

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This race too came down the the final sprint. The racer who had broken away only to be caught did manage to hang on and win.

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But the real reason I wanted to check out the Hyde Park Blast was the Chariot Racing!

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The Chariots  are pulled by two humans with one in the Chariot.

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Costumes were encouraged.

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There were two groups of Chariot Racers – social ones with better costumes, and serious runners who designed for maximum speed.

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Although the various running clubs still had some style to them.

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Clearly not one of the serious groups.

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Sharks might be fast in the water, but not on the streets of Cincinnati. Still the Chariot Races made a great finish to a good day of the Hyde Park Blast.

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Logan, Ohio – June 2018 – Washboard Music Festival

Each year the Columbus Washboard Company (detailed on another posting) sponsors a Washboard Music Festival.

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In addition to the music they had a parade.

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Which featured mostly vintage tractors.

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Vendors selling an assortment of unusual items, including box guitars.

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As well as observing the local way of securing criminals?

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But we were here for the music.

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Artists from the various groups joined in with the other bands, including this fiddle player from Canada.

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Ira the somewhat cynical banjo player from Philadelphia. For the most part he had an audience of 1 (me), and had to play in front of a payday loan store, so I can see why he is cynical.

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Meanwhile on the main stage a collection of washboard players gathered…

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Bringing their strange instruments.

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Coming from far and wide.

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To join the legendary Washboard Hank, from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. I am not sure why but a number of the performers were from Canada!

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Hanks helmet is also an ‘instrument’

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The collection of washboard players joined Hank and his band on stage for a few songs.

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But we had to catch the Hillbilly Bus…

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It was time to leave the laundry hanging across the street and get out of town.

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Columbus – March 2018 – Women’s Final Four Bounces into Town

College sports is a big deal, both socially and financially, and every city longs to host the finals of the basketball season. This year the NCAA Women’s Final Four was held in Columbus, and as with all major sporting events now they have a festival to accompany the games.

One of the highlights for this weekend was an event called ‘Bounce’, which gives thousands of kids a free basketball and T Shirt and allows them to dribble along the street next to Nationwide Arena up to the Convention Center where there was a number of activities for them (as well as adults).

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To coordinate such an event takes lots of volunteers, who all seemed to be having as much fun as the kids.

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But eventually they were set loose – the sound of basketballs dribbling reverberating off the buildings.

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The little ones even maintained their focus.

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Soon the street was filled with the kids and their parents.

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Once they reached the convention center there were unique skills tests waiting for them.

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A highly energetic host lead a game of ‘basketball musical chairs’, requiring them to dribble around the circle in the middle of the court – when the music stopped they had to run down, make a basket and head back. Easily the host was the most amusing part of the day.

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I am not certain the city makes the money back they invest in the games, but it does draw some attention to the city, for a few days at least.

 

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