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.