I made it to Fremont relatively easily, parked in an incredibly sketchy spot blocking half the sidewalk, and followed the hordes of people marching down to the waterfront for the parade. I had no idea what this parade was about or what to expect. I reached the first glob of people and maneuvered my way out onto the open street. A man in a pink bandana with curly brown hair poking out and a black mesh shirt neatly tucked into his belted jeans was shouting through a megaphone, attempting to gain crown control through humor. I saw a rainbow flag and a scattering of rainbow umbrellas but couldn’t quite get the confirmation that this was a gay pride parade. Children lined up the sidewalks in strollers and atop blankets while many more adults leaned against railings and brick walls or slouched in fold out chairs. Clowns came around and passed out sidewalk chalk while everyone waited with clear anticipation. Suddenly, a single naked biker pedaled past and the gathered crowd burst into cheers. A throng of naked bicyclists soon began to zoom by, some wearing underwear but most proudly showing off body paint of various themes. There were naked biker lionesses, flower pots, batman, elvis, transformer, spiderman, the incredible hulk, mormons, a salmon run, a buffalo, Viking, skeletons, care bears, a butterfly, tassled belly dancers, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the police, and many more I could not identify and probably didn’t want to. Everyone cheered and called out to someone they knew. The group next to me for instance seemed to know naked elvis very well. The naked bicylists kept shouting happy solstice to everyone on the sidewalks and thus I learned the presumptive cause for the parade: the beginning of summer. It felt a little undeserved as it was 60 degrees and raining, but I’ll take it. After maybe a half hour of this showcase, the rest of the parade began and my camera promptly died – I exceedingly apologize for the loss of visuals here. A group of poodle-skirted girls with brightly striped knee socks began parading down the street, each with a dozen single-colored balloons that collectively made a rainbow. Beside them were several Ashton Kutcher look alikes, one of whom was making figure eights on a tricycle, pulling a red flyer wagon blaring a playlist entirely composed of Mika songs from a 90s boombox.
Next came some local bellydance studio (there were many more to come). About half of this group had those symbol things on their fingers, while the other half just pretended they did; about half of the group were also men in either belly or see-through shirts, though they were considerably more focused than the women on displaying the proper technique. Next came a group of about 30 cross-dressers, all with their faces painted bright white as if trying to be some sort of mask. They did not dance or sing or really do anything but walk forward. It was kind of strange, but I couldn’t stop staring, grasping for any sort of meaning. Next came more seasoned bellydancers with a much larger class size. (I’m pretty much calling all of these groups bellydancers at this point cause that’s genuinely what they looked like to me, but I’m sure all of these groups have some sort of variant name they like to haughtily call themselves.) The novice people were in red and kept to a strict marching routine while the more skilled women were in all black and danced around the perimeter of the red-clad women. At this point, the order of things gets a little hazy and kind of merges into one ridiculous affair. At one point small children dressed as bright green bugs would dart ahead and then suddenly collapse to the ground as flat as can be, scrunching their eyes in anticipation as their parents rolled a 10ft, slightly deflated ball covered in various brown and green things overtop of the children. I’m not really quite sure what this represented, but it was adorable when the children popped back up from the ground after being “squished.” At another point a classic styled 15ft beach ball came rolling down the street, able to remain airborne from crowd surfing for only a few seconds as it mostly acted like a bowling ball against the small, pin-sized children. More normal sized beach balls would soon follow for longer lasting volleys. Numerous stilts marched along the route, many of them surprisingly looked about the age of 10 with essentially clown-colored legs, while the adults strangely adopted a more pirate theme. Floats were all human powered, whether there was an underground bicyclist hamster powering the whole thing or a few people pushing from the back. Another float featured the bubble man. This is literally what the middle-aged heavyset white guy called himself from atop his tower through his telemarketer microphone. A dozen small children held pinwheel shaped wands that they would sporadically dip in bubble juice and then run around like crazy in front of their audience, thrashing their wands about the air and spraying more soap than actual bubbles. One little girl didn’t quite understand the concept and her entire face was just covered with white foam. The little girl sputtered about, trying to keep up with the other kids while constantly spitting the soap out of her mouth and squinting her eyes through the haze. One mother thought she looked adorable and began to take pictures. Another girl saw this and covered her own face with bubbles in order to gain a spot in the picture and a glimmer of more attention.
Meanwhile the bubble king had pulled out his latest invention. Eight child-size plastic tennis rackets, aligned together in a fan shape and attached to a mop handle, were dipped into the overflowing vat of bubble juice, and then twirled around the air creating this just huge cloud of bubbles that dispersed everywhere. The invention was ingenious and I suddenly understood how the bubble king had rightfully earned his title as well as the admiration of every small child within a mile radius. Two other floats contained local bands just rocking out to whatever came to mind. Other small acts were interspersed such as the hula-hooping club, a salmon run of small women powered fish being chased by one large man powered fish, a wolf that was maneuvered like one of those Chinese dragons, a very large troll puppet, and a band of cave men that literally terrorized the small children around me and reeked of weed. The second to last piece of the parade was the one and only Flying Spaghetti Monster Himself, surrounded by his chosen people: pirates. I died. I couldn’t stop smiling and was able to coax my camera to work for exactly 5 seconds to snap a picture. He was simply glorious and I basked in the glow of his noodly appendages. One of the disciple pirates saw this and asked why I was laughing at his God, shoving a hooked hand in my face. I smiled and said not to worry, I’m a pastafarian myself. This seemed to please the pirate and he moved on for more converts. The final float of the parade was a large band of guitars, trumpets, horns, singers, and a numerous drum core in the back. As they moved past, the crowd filed into the streets, following the band to the end of the route, cheering whenever a drummer in the back row would turn around and start playing for them or the gleam of a flask suddenly blinded an entire section; an impromptu dance party in the middle of the street spontaneously broke out when the float finally came to a stop. And then, just like that, it was over. The throngs packed up their beer and chairs and made the slow trudge back to their cars.
To say the least, this parade was awesome…and incredibly unique. Several adults standing beside me told me I was having way too much fun.