Doo Dah right thing

If the Rose Parade is meticulous use of flora, then its annual spoof equivalent is all about raucous partying — and it had the hula dancers in fat suits to prove it.

For 32 years the Doo Dah Parade has presented an unapologetic alternative to its esteemed inspiration, the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. And so on Sunday, a man dressed in a hairy black gorilla costume playing the bag pipes and other odd sights were just par for the course.

“It’s kind of creepy, and it’s kind of fun — kind of like a weird dream,” parade watcher Cyndi McClain said. “That’s why you kind of have to have a few drinks in you, just to go with it.”

And many people did, dancing in the streets as the Burbank-based Back to Disco Drill Team — in all its gold lamé, booty shorts and afros — shuffled their way down the parade route.

“We never take it seriously,” club organizer Lisette St. Claire said.

Several parade entrants took that mantra to the outer limits Sunday, with each successive batch of marchers reveling in the cheekiness of their creations.

There was the “Flying Baby Street Racing” gang, with two plastic babies strapped into their respective strollers, one on each side, that “raced” each other on a pulley system.

Roman generals, half-naked baton twirlers, Darth Vader, Santa Claus, ballerinas, pirates, cowboys and a man dressed in a bunny suit riding a miniature motorbike all took their turns on the Colorado Boulevard route.

So did a group of dolled up Dachshunds, cigar-smoking loungers, Chinese human rights protesters and the Synchronized Baguette Brigade — a band of “French” bread-makers who used, yes, baguettes, as part of their dance routine.

Pillows were the prop of choice for the Synchronized Nap Team — a “growing army of men with nothing better to do” that took spontaneous naps on the pavement while moving down the parade route.

Organizers for the team couldn’t even give the total number of their membership.

“We say we have a newsletter, but we never get around to getting it out,” team leader Frank Rydberg said before the parade.

Glendale’s contingent had a particularly high profile at the parade this year.

The five-time national roller skate championship team In Sync, based at Glendale’s Moonlight Rollerway, was chosen to accompany the parade’s grand marshal, retro pop culture comedian Charles Phoenix.

“We’re like his entourage,” 20-year-old skater Holly Paronelli said.

And then there was Queen Skittles, otherwise known as Julie Kilma, a 24-year-old Glendale resident who won the ruling spot on the parade’s roster after an audition that included “something that involved cameras and mannequins,” Doo Dah Parade judge Johnny Swain said.

Dressed in a frilly pink dress and sitting atop the horse that would carry her down the parade route, Queen Skittles had already developed a sense of authority.

Her first order of business would be to set up a “friendly duel” with her Rose Parade counterpart. After that, the art school graduate and professional photographer would “exile Thomas Kinkade from L.A.”

Billionaire developer Rick Caruso would also be on the banned list, she said.

A meeting with the mayors of Pasadena and Glendale could also be penciled in, “but I don’t know if they’ll like my agenda,” she said before setting off with an entourage that included Santa Claus, a robot and other fanciful characters.

“This is just insane, I mean look at them,” Burbank resident and longtime Doo Dah Parade fan Frank Markson said as he pointed at a garish group of scantly clad roller derby women. “Every year I’m amazed at what people are willing to do in public.”


 JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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