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Newark USA

A fotojournal about LIVING in Newark USA, New Jersey's largest and most cultured city, by the author of the foto-essay website RESURGENCE CITY: Newark USA.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pre-Parade Scene

I am finally putting together my discussion of this October's Art and Peace Parade. I took 83 fotos and 20 short videos that day, and combining a comprehensive narrative and illustrations, quickly became unmanageable. So I created parts of that narrative into separate blogposts, and now begin to address the Parade itself.

The big outdoor event of this year's Open Doors artstravaganza was the Barat Foundation's Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade on Sunday, October 21st, which entailed three marching bands and a lot of kids, mostly teens, marching and pulling "Animodules". Animodules are apparently a Barat (like "Barrett") Foundation innovation, comprising fanciful animals portayed in two shaped, flat panels arranged in an interpenetrating cross, on a platform and wheels (which should be much larger, say, 8" in diameter, or whatever size the bigger wheels are on the four-wheeled wire rolling carts by means of which people who walk to the supermarket take home their purchases) by which Animodules are pulled thru the streets. (I imagine there are a lot of old, nonusable carts with an intact assembly of two wheels and the connecting axle that people would be very happy to donate for next year's parade. I have one myself on a no longer usable, crumpled cart, in the basement. Indeed, I think even the smaller-wheel assembly on such carts would be better than the tiny wheels the Animodules are now mounted on, so each old, unusable cart could contribute two wheel-and-axle assemblies to ease the parade of Animodules next year.)

The Parade was scheduled to start at noon. Prior experience led me to believe it would not in fact start before 12:30. I wanted to park on Washington Street as near as possible to the staging area on Bank Street between Broad and Halsey Streets, but an absurdly high proportion of the curb on both sides of Washington Street is barred to parking, for absolutely no reason I could discern. Something has got to be done about arbitrary and unreasonable parking restrictions in Downtown Newark, which are doubtless causing economic harm to businesses.

View from Raymond Boulevard on my way to 765 Broad. I sometimes straighten these perspective-tilted pix, but here the tilt seemed useful, to indicate height.

In any case, the nearest street-parking spot, even on a quiet Sunday (when parking meters are not in use) was on Washington just short of Linden Street (going north, Washington being one-way, north). I suspect that parking meters harm the city's economy more than they benefit it, given that suburban shopping areas offer FREE parking.
I then felt, at perhaps 12:35pm, that I had to walk fast to traverse the five blocks to Bank and Broad to be in time to fotograf the banner at the head of the parade. As it happened, I arrived in plenty of time to see the marchers step off.

Indeed, I had time to ask Athena Barat (in the feather headdress in the foto above) about the projected route, fotograf the head of the parade before the marchers started off, and then walk up Park Place to scout the best locations for fotos and video in terms of sunshine and visual backdrop. I then waited for the parade to enter those areas, and took a mix of stills and videos, as seemed appropriate.

Here, I show the elegant anti-carbomb barriers outside the Prudential Plaza HQ of the worldwide Prudential Financial empire. Yup, right here in Newark, opposite the Barat Foundation's space on Bank Street.

A few people with small drums entertained the crowd.

The group was small but festive, and the day was gorgeous. You couldn't ask for a better day for a parade.

In the picture above you can see on the left the X-shape (as seen from overhead) of Animodules (which the Barat Foundation initially called "puppets" when it began creating them in 2008) and some members of the Shabazz High School marching band in yellow-and-white uniforms.
Here's the banner that led off the line of march.

In this foto, NAC fotografer Stafford Woods holds his camera aloft to show more of the group behind the opening banner.

Broad Street was entirely closed for the parade, and when the organizers failed to get off to a prompt start, the police traffic supervisor got increasingly testy, to the point of pulling his cruiser around and running his siren very loud to jar the parade to a start. The noise was actually painful, and that supervisor should have been reprimanded over attacking the hearing of bystanders.

And they're off! Gary Barat runs to get ahead of the parade to take pix from vantage points of his choosing.

Here, you see the start of the march passing the incised stone legend on the HQ tower of "THE PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA".

And here you see that that building rises higher than anything else on that side of Broad Street.

There was a bigger crowd this year than last, which I think was the first year the parade was held on the weekend. In part, that was due to the fact that there had been a breast-cancer walk earlier in the day, and some participants stayed around for the parade.

There were a bunch of handsome white tents set up in Military Park for the cancer event. I told the guy with the cowboy-style straw hat that I liked his hat. That would make better sense to you if you knew that I was wearing my own big, floppy straw hat to protect my face from sunburn and to shade the monitor of my camera. I don't know that I have any pictures of me in that hat, tho I think my "ex" (-boyfriend, from 1966), might have taken a picture of me with it on, when we spent a weekend together in Montreal in July 2009; I'll have ask if he has such a picture). Maybe I should have asked Gary Barat, a talented fotografer, to take a picture of me in it, with my camera. But I didn't think to do that.

Nor do I think many people from the breast-cancer walk knew about the parade. If next year the cancer walk and parade are again held on the same day, the Newark Arts Council needs to do more outreach to retain more of the cancer-walk crowd. Indeed, a lot more publicity, across many audiences, needs to be done to build an audience for this splendid event. The kids may enjoy marching, even if mainly only for fotografers and videografers, but they deserve an actual audience of size. And this is an event that a lot of people in our region should like. The schools that send bands should urge their community (students, teachers, parents, alumni) to get to the parade to support their kids.

Here, a group of breast-cancer marchers happily posed in their Michael Jackson-themed garb near the staging area for the Parade. Cancer is, of course, a grim business, but fiting it should entail some joy and liteheartedness, so these walkers had exactly the right idea.

The Parade itself comprised a short route of march, from Broad and Bank Streets up Park Place back onto Broad Street, and into Washington Park. The Animodules were, um, parked along the park's walkways to create a festive environment.

In the last foto today, you can see that new Animodules are decorated with details that you might not notice if you focus on the overall animal shape.

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