Thursday, December 06, 2012

2012 Mayor's Christmas Parade in Hampden, edit

40th Annual Mayor's Christmas Parade
December 2, 2012

Feet Accompli: the Mayor's Christmas Parade is an event where Baltimorons let it all hang out

It’s that time of year again, time for one of Baltimore’s great holiday traditions, the 40th annual Mayor’s Christmas Parade in Hampden. This year’s parade – the last organized by Tom Kerr – was Grand Marshaled by Baltimore celebrity and best-selling mystery writer Laura Lippman (aka Mrs. David Simon) and featured the usual holiday season suspects parading down 36th Street:  over 150 marching units; colorful and unusual floats; local TV and Radio personalities; Fez-toting Boumi Temple Shriners riding miniature flying carpets, trucks and all-terrain vehicles; over 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles; hydraulic suspension-bouncing lowriders; a steam calliope; the Mummers of Philadelphia; Miss Yuletide and Jr. Miss Yuletide; Café Hon glutton-for-punishment Denise Whiting (who elicited yawns instead of scorn as her convertible sped by); and even Santa Claus himself (called by some purists the “unseen but omnipresent behavior monitor” of naive children and the grotesquely commercial “false god” of Christmas).

The Boumi Temple Shriners are always highlight of the parade, especially their bizarre Crippled Children Float.

The Shriners pledge "You'll Never Walk Alone"

Below is a video clip featuring the Shriners - and many other bizarre floats - from a previous Mayor's Christmas Parade.

And it was also good to see The Lone Ranger (aka Garry Cherricks, of Salisbury, Md.) once more back in the saddle for his fourth trip down The Avenue, though not atop his “best friend and partner” Silver.

The Lone Ranger says "Hi-Yo Silver II!"

According to the Baltimore Messenger, Cherrick's trusty white steed was put down May 19 following a tragic fall. Instead, the Lone Ranger debuted Silver II, an 11-year-old gelding that Cherricks found near Nashville, Tenn., in August. (Alas, no Tonto in sight; he was probably negotiating with the Governor about opening an Indian Casino at National Harbor.)

I must note that Silver II was very well toilet-trained, because of all the horses riding down the street this day (and there were a lot!), Silver No. 2 was the only one I didn't see plop out some No. 2's! (For an account of 2010's defecating "Animals On Parade," see the video clip below.)

This year's parade marked the debut of a pair of Sock Monkeys (or were they Yetis? Missing Links? I get my footwear/fuzzy mammals confused) who amused the crowd with their furry tomfoolery and monkeying around.

The Sock Monkeys wait for a bus to take them back home to the sock drawer

It was also a treat to see followers of the Chinese spiritual discipline Falun Dafa (aka Falun Gong) in the parade. (Was this their first appearance?)

Falun Dafa asks "What's so funny about Truth, Compassion and Tolerance?"

This group, founded in the early 1990s by Li Hongzhi, practices a form of meditation and slow-moving qigong exercises that was later banned by fast-moving, slow-thinking Communist Chinese authorities. Falun Dafa literally means "Dharma Wheel Practice" and their motto is "Truth, Compassion and Tolerance" - no wonder they're banned in China! Founder Li has lived in the United States since 1996 and hundreds of thousands are believed to practice the discipline across some 70 countries worldwide.

It's interesting that their symbol (shown above right) is the very swatzika that Adolf Hitler "re-purposed" for his Nazi Party back in the 1930s, ironically an icon not completely unwelcome in pre-gentrified Hampden back in the day (don't forget, the Ku Klux Klan marched through here as late as the 1970s!) .

The Falun Dafa go through the motions in the Mayor's Christmas Parade

The crowd also clearly enjoyed the Urban Legends Car Club's hydraulic suspension lowriders that defied gravity to bounce up and down The Avenue (though I'm glad they don't live in my neighborhood!). 

Urban Legends C.C. keep crowds in hydraulically suspended disbelief!

This is the way we roll bounce!

Wonder if these guys are eligible for Safe Driver Discounts?

Of course, one cannot mention lowriders without the obligatory shout out to War's classic anthem "Low Rider," so without further ado:

My favorite part of this motorcade was observing how fans flocked to pose with Malcolm Stoll of Kiss 'N' Makeup (who doubles as Baltimore's unofficial Chelsea FC Ambassador) in front of the souped-up cars, as shown below.

Malcolm Stoll rolls with it!

 That's the way Malcolm Stoll rolls!

But the real highlight of the parade for me was another holiday tradition – seeing dancer/choreographer Suzanne Muldowney (aka "Underdog," “Underdog Lady”) once again march down 36th Street. Though she’s achieved fame both locally (thanks to her frequent appearances on AtomicTV’s holiday specials) and nationally (thanks to Howard Stern’s TV and radio show and Boris Gavrilovic's 2006 documentary My Life as an Underdog) for her appearances as ‘60s canine superhero Underdog, this year she appeared as the "Fairy of the Golden Snow."

Goldfinger: Suzanne Muldowney is the "Fairy of the Golden Snow" whose magic wand turns golden snowflakes white as they touch the ground

Suzanne Muldowney: Solid Gold Dancer
Luckily, my fellow Atomic TV/Baltimore Or Less cohort Scott "Unpainted" Huffines and I were able to catch up with Suzanne after the parade. She brought us up to date on her busy career as parade-marching performance artist and interpretive dancer.

Flanked by flaky fans Tom "Man About Town" Warner and Scott "Unpainted" Huffines of Atomic TV, Suzanne Muldowney shows off her Fairy of the Golden Snow (note Suzanne and Scott adopting the non-smiling "Mona Lisa" pose while Tom merely grimaces) 

"Suzanne, you're not Underdog this year!" I blurted, with my patented flair for the obvious, as we met up on the end of Chestnut Avenue.

When she explained her "Fairy of the Golden Snow" character, Scott  asked, "Golden Snow, is that like yellow snow? Or frozen Golden Showers?"

We snickered, the thought of "yellow snow" and "golden showers" making our primitive, prurient minds think of Frank Zappa songs, sex fetishist-turned-sex feminist Annie Sprinkle, and Michelle the Atomic TV "Pee Girl" (whose talents were captured in our "Cones and Rods Party" episode).

Fairy Forecast: Golden showers turning to white snow

All that dribbles is not gold!

Nanook, no, no - don't you eat that yellow snow!

Where's the Golden Snow Fairy when you need her?

Street-smart Snoop Dog knows that shit ain't right!

Suzanne ignored our low-brow cracks and, when I mentioned that I recalled seeing her in a gold outfit before, confirmed that this year's ensemble was indeed a reprise of her 2006 costume - and one of the few non-Underdog characters (such as 2003's Ghost of Christmas Past - honoring the 160th anniversary of the publication of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol - which she will resurrect at next year's parade to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the Dickens classic) she has presented at the parade.

But there's no need to fear, Underdog will be here in two more years, Suzanne promises

There's no need to fear - Underdog will be here in two more years!

2014 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Underdog cartoon show, which debuted on the NBC television network on October 3, 1964. And though gold is the color associated with 50th anniversaries, Suzanne assures her fans that she will once again don her familiar, hand-made red costume and blue cape in honor of the historic occasion.

Can't wait for 2014 when once more it'll be hip-hip-hip and away she goes - time for Underdog to save the day!

If it's Yellow, Let It Mellow
Now, Scott and I both shot video footage of the parade, including our exclusive interview with Suzanne Muldowney as Fairy of the Golden Snow; unfortunately we have day jobs and are either too busy or (in my case) too lazy to edit and upload it just yet. But stay tuned, Atomic TV/Underdog fans - your orbs will soon be treated to this video field report.

In the meantime, here's a trip down Memory Lane, a remembrance of Fairies of Golden Snows Past, to tide Suzanne Muldowney fans over...

Hindsight Is Golden

Suzanne Muldowney last appeared here as the Fairy of the Golden Snow in 2006, when she sang English and Latin versions of "Silent Night" backed by The Awkward Sounds of Scott & Skizz (or A.S.S.S. - a duo made up of Scott Wallace Brown and Skizz Cyzyk, who characterizes themselves as "2 guys playing little music on little instruments")

Scott and Skizz provided awkward backing as Suzanne Muldowney sang "Silent Night" during her 2006 appearance as fairy of the Golden Snow

For your viewing pleasure, a repeat performance of Suzanne singing "Silent Night" is shown below.

Related Links:
Hampden Christmas Parade 2006  (Accelerated Decrepitude)

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Unknown said...

Hey that's my little face and my roommate's feet! Glad that place isn't an apartment any more, but we're still elsewhere on the parade route haha.

2:22 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home