MayDay Parade: What happens in Minneapolis when the sun comes out
May 5, 2014 — 10:09am
At some parades, first ladies and firefighters and football players make guest appearances. At the MayDay Parade in Powderhorn Park, Pete Seeger is the surprise guest--all 12 feet of him, his giant smiling visage reaching as high as the barely-there-but-still-there tree buds.
"The spring of 1975 was our first MayDay Festival," write the organizers. "Our original impetus for this Festival was quite simple. We wanted to give a gift to the community that was supporting our theatre, and to create a celebration that would bring people together out of their homes at the end of winter."
And bring people out it did. If you aren't from here and you've ever wondered what happens at MayDay when the mercury hits 50 and a few of the sun's rays finally peek out from hibernation, I can tell you that thousands of sweaters get torn off bodies like they're on fire as people gather to blink up at the flameball in the sky. And that the strange feet of Minnesotans, once encased for half the year in hulking boots, become bifurcated by flip-flops-- often dressed up with a winter coat or down vest.
The artistry and attendance of the MayDay parade and festival may have changed over the last four decades, but its unique spirit hasn't. TPT has a great video from the first parade and festival in 1975. People interviewed for the video 40 years ago say they came out to celebrate working people, and the annual arrival of the sun.
According to Sandy Spieler, the artistic director at HOBT, over the years people have asked to have their loved ones' ashes spread on the shores of Powderhorn Lake during the festival. MayDay, in many ways, continues to define the Powderhorn neighborhood and the 8,500 or so people who call it home.
While the parade happened in the streets, some people gathered online to share their photos and stories. Below are a few of the best from Twitter.
Molly Priesmeyer is the co-owner of Good Work Group, a creative and storytelling consultancy dedicated to helping mission-driven businesses and organizations succeed. Her stories on culture, the arts, and the environment have appeared in the Star Tribune; Pioneer Press; Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine; Rolling Stone; MinnPost; and others. She's been working on her novel, "Why Me? A Martyr's Guide to Live," since 5th grade. She can be reached at www.mollypriesmeyer.com.
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