The residents of the area south of Hudson St. in the University District, or “SoHud” area are eager to spread awareness of the neighborhood by getting out and making some noise in the streets.
The third annual SoHud Fools Parade & Festival of Hilaria is set to take place on Saturday, and encourages participants to be their “wackadoo” selves.
Founder of the event, Christopher Eley, is an Ohio State alumnus who received his bachelors in psychology and masters degree in social work, is a long-time resident of the SoHud area. He says he wants to bring more attention to the neighborhood, and hopes the tradition will become a staple in the community.
“There’s no festivals here, there’s festivals for ComFest, there’s festivals for everything all over town, but there’s no real festival in this area,” Eley said.
The parade urges participants to show up rocking their craziest costumes, and make some ruckus in the streets. A marching band will lead the parade. Eley said, “We’re really trying to get more noise coming out of the parade.”
“The parade is really kind of geared towards nonsense, honestly,” Eley said. “We kind of encourage people to come out and bust out your Halloween costumes and come and have a good time.”
Deb Supelak is known as the webmaster for the parade, and has been with the parade since it’s first year. Supelak has been a resident and homeowner in the SoHud neighborhood since 1991.
“This came out of an idea that was floated at a SoHud block watch meeting about ways to build community and to promote our neighborhood,” Supelak said. She said the idea sparked from the misrepresentation that the area is a “student-only, campus location” but it is also extremely family-oriented.
Eley said that a story he heard on the radio many years ago was an inspiration for the parade. In the late 1500’s Pope Gregory XIII ordered that the Gregorian calendar replace the Julian calendar, which had New Year’s Day on April 1st.
“Back a long time ago they used to celebrate New Year’s on April 1st, the beginning of spring. So folks up in the mountains didn’t catch this and they continued to celebrate New Year’s on April 1st as opposed to January 1st so they kind of became the fools,” said Eley.
Much of the funding for the parade comes from the community and local businesses. In, 2013 the first parade was fully self-sponsored through a bake sale, selling t-shirts, and a benefit show, said Supelak. “We had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be more than we hoped in our wildest dreams.”
This year the organization had a benefit show and silent auction to raise money, and was also able to secure its first corporate sponsor in Columbus Crew’s Mapfre Stadium.
Supelak said, “This year we’ve seen the support from the business community just skyrocket.”
Participants are invited to attend the Pre-Parade party at 3 p.m. at The Dude Locker, where judges will crown “The Fool of the Day,” who will marshal the parade. At 4 p.m. the parade will begin down Tompkins St. and venture throughout the South Hudson area.
The parade is non-motorized, however cyclists are welcome. Residents are encouraged to check the map on the event website to see if their house is on the route and are encouraged to Periscope the parade to add to the website’s livestream.
The parade will conclude at The Summit, located at 2210 Summit St., which will house the family-friendly Festival of Hilaria and will include a prize wheel, photo booth, games, giveaways, old school cartoons, and live performances including music, comedy, and magic.
“The most important part of this festival is to bring the neighborhood together, and have fun for the whole afternoon and night. The word ‘hilaria’ describes it pretty well,” said Benjamin Jara, an OSU graduate student studying agricultural economics. His band, “The Completos,” is set to perform at Festival of Hilaria.
“Some of my best friends in town live in the SoHud neighborhood. I know that is a vibrant and welcoming community. I felt at home there during my first weeks living in Columbus. I attended last year’s festival, so I asked our friends if ‘The Completos’ could play there this year. This is our first show and we’re very excited to share our songs with this particular crowd,” Jara said.
Supelak’s hope is that the attendees of the parade and festival simply have fun.
“We celebrate that basic drive to have fun. We’re always happy to see the families who come out with their young ones and the older folks who want to celebrate their inner child,” she said.