On the Fourth of July the United States celebrates its independence from Great Britain. On that same day, the people of Columbus will display their independent spirits through comedic floats and zany costumes.
The 33rd official Doo Dah parade is set to step off on Monday.
“Disorganizer” Bob Wicks, a 2002 Ohio State MPA graduate, has been involved for 31 of those years.
Wicks said he wouldn’t be surprised if 500-700 people showed up to participate in the parade with 25,000 to 30,000 people spectating along the route. He said in his mind, the perfect parade wouldn’t have any spectators and instead everyone would participate.
Any members of the community are welcome to join the Doo Dah parade without prior registration or any entry fee, Wicks said.
“The idea is that we want people to be involved with it,” he said. “It’s a chance to do parody, it’s a chance to speak out for things you care about. It really is a good platform for people who want to either publicize their issue or express their discontent with something that happened.”
This year, he anticipates that many of the parade participants will speak to political topics.
Jenny Wurth, an OSU graduate student studying speech pathology, participated in the parade with members of the OSU Ski & Board Team last year. She said the group actually decided to join the parade the day of the event, opting to create a pseudo-band with kitchen supplies.
“That’s the beauty of Doo Dah, it’s very spontaneous,” Wurth said.
Everything from groups making political statements to kazoo bands can join the parade, with few limitations. Wicks said it’s important, though, for participants to be mindful of the fact that young children watch the parade, and with that no graphic images are permitted. The parade organizers also don’t allow commercial advertising or any blatant bashing of different groups.
“The idea is not to attack and alienate people,” Wicks said. “You can parody their position, you can disagree with what they’re doing. If you can figure out a way to do it tongue-in-cheek and have it be in the vein of a parody or a satire, then you’re fine.”
The Doo Dah parade is a nonprofit event, and the money from donations and T-shirt sales goes toward security, insurance and other costs to keep the parade and accompanying party going. The leftover balance is donated to local charities and community projects that vary year to year.
“It’s really a parade for people,” Wicks said. “It’s not pushing someone else’s hidden agenda. It’s an opportunity to be involved with the community, pretty much at a grassroots level.”
Wurth recommends that people go out and participate in the parade.
“It’s very unique and not apologetic for just being itself,” she said. “You walk away from it, and you’ll have a story to tell someone the next day. It’s definitely an interesting experience.”
Spectators and participants alike can never know what to expect for such an event, but Wicks hopes it will elicit a positive response.
“Everything you do for this parade should make you smile,” Wicks said. “You may smile and shake your head, but we’d like you to smile.”
In addition to the parade, there will be a party on Buttles Avenue between North High and Park streets from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Local bands are set to perform, and there will be food, beer and games.
The Doo Dah Parade is set to take place at 1 p.m. Lineup begins at noon on Park Street near Goodale Park, and the parade will proceed north down Neil Avenue, east on Second Avenue and south on High Street.