Little Balkans Days are less than a week away so, if you haven’t already started, it’s time to get together with your crew and practice a fun, innovative, and silly entry for the Doo Dah Parade.
Yes, dear readers, thanks to the efforts of former Little Balkans Days board president, Penny Armstrong, the Doo Dah Parade is back.
The farcical and flamboyant event, which was very popular in the first years of Little Balkans Days (1985-89), was one in which participants walked from 13th Street to 4th and Broadway where the Centennial Choir led a community sing-a-long. Governor Carlin was in it one year. Miss America another.
“Some marchers came alone in casual dress but many came costumed in certain themes,” Penny told me. “Some groups featured well rehearsed drills. I remember one group who all carried lawn chairs and would stop and execute an elaborate drill routine circling and sitting in their chairs.”
She also mentioned a group of attorneys called LAWYERS LOVE THEIR BRIEFS who marched in boxer shorts carrying their briefcases. And groups of PSU international students in colorful costumes from their native lands.
This year’s marchers (anyone of any age who has ever wanted to be in a parade) with gather at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday the 31st in the Lincoln Center parking lot and be led by Grand Marshall, Doctor Mark ‘Never Afraid to be Playful’ Johnson, through the park and over the bridge to the J.J. Richards Band Dome for a community sing-a-long led by the Treble Clef Club. No need to register in advance.
A totally new event this year will be a music crawl celebrating the bands of The Little Balkans. Participating venues: Kansas Crossing, Chatters, Main Street Axe Co., Jimmy B’s, McCarthy’s, 5th Street Bar & Grill, 505, The Pitt, T.J. Lelands, Bubba’s 311, Barto’s Idle Hour, Shooters and Banjos. All will feature a live band. Free bus transportation between the venues (stopping every thirty minutes) from 6 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
I’ll be back as M.C. at the Folklife Music Stage in the northwest corner of Lincoln Park, overlooking the arts and crafts show, chili cook off, Kiddeland Rides, pony rides, and more. New acts on this year’s playbill include a bluegrass, gospel and old time western band, The Farnum Family (they’ll be playing Branson the following Sunday and Monday), and local mining history balladeer, Holly Reed, accompanied by Norma Hiatt on violin.
There will also be multiple events in downtown Pittsburg, at Meadowbrook Mall and on the grounds of Crawford County Historical Museum — truly something for everyone of every age Friday through Sunday.
You can find a listing of all events in the Little Balkans Days brochure. They’re available at Celebrations by Lori, Kansas Teachers Credit Union, Memorial Auditorium, the Chamber of Commerce, and Ron’s Supermarket. Buy a commemorative button when you’re there and get into most of the ticketed events free. Events are also listed on the Little Balkans Days Facebook page and littlebalkans.com.
I went through the brochure and counted 45 “happenings.” And that’s not including the 13 live band venues on the music crawl. Or Area 51 at Meadowbrook Mall, Todd East at Pritchett Pavilion, The Duke Mason Band at Memorial, Stone Country at Pritchett Pavilion, Members Only at the street dance, or the John Zibert Polka Band (featuring fried chicken dinners) at Meadowbrook Mall Sunday afternoon.
As for the Doo Dah Parade, no doubt it will emanate the sweet harmony of silliness and abandon as it snakes through the park. All are invited to come.
Come dancing, twirling, jumping and swirling dressed as a dog or a cat … or marching in time like a tiny toy soldier drumming a rat-a-tat-tat.
Come blowing a kazoo or a golden trombone … or tapping the beat on a rock with a bone.
Come dressed as a cowboy or costumed as a maid; but come, come … please come one and all ... to the Doo Dah Parade!
J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker, and prevention and wellness specialist. He operates Knoll Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or firstname.lastname@example.org