The Art Car Parade: Keeping Houston weird

May 23, 2011

Media & Culture

What is it about the Art Car Parade that makes it the quintessential Houston event?

If you remember the “Houston: It’s Worth It” campaign and book of a few years ago, you may agree that the annual parade presented by the Orange Show is just the kind of thing those folks were getting at:  a celebration of unfettered creativity mixed with an attitude of down-home, freewheeling unpretentiousness. It may be art, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

I attended this year’s parade on assignment for a my day job, and found a perfect spot for taking photos:  right where Allen Parkway, the main parade route, splits off in separate directions outside downtown. That way, I was able to catch the cars and other parade participants going in both directions. (See my photos on Flickr here.)

Of course, a big part of the parade is what happens before, as the participants stage their cars, floats, tricked-out bicycles and whatnot before the main event. It’s the ultimate street party, and everyone’s invited.

That’s another part of what makes the parade so in keeping with Houston:  the welcoming attitude to people of all kinds, of whatever ethnicity, religious affiliation or political stripe. Hippies mix with rednecks and suburbanites, cars dedicated to right-leaning causes like tort reform mix and with those driven by leftist peaceniks, and Christians and Hare Krishnas can find common cause.

The only real requirement is a sense of humor.

NOTE: Ford Gunter, a former newspaper colleague, is co-directing and producing a documentary film on the Art Car Parade. Learn more about it here.

Copyright © 2011 Ken Fountain. All rights reserved.

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About Ken Fountain

I'm a journalist and writer in Houston, Texas. My areas of specialty include law and courts, local government and energy and environmental issues. You can follow me on Twitter at and email me at kenfountain1 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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  1. Art Cars redux | Fountain's Pen - May 12, 2013

    […] year, another Art Car Parade. This time, no pontificating, just […]

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