When observing a parade or any festive event, one can think about it in a number of ways. Above are photos I took from 2009-2018 of the Hermosa Beach, California, St. Patrick's Day Parade. It includes Bolivian caporale, Irish dance, Mexican folklórico, Hawaiian hula, and beer dolly performances along with Darth Vader, high school marching bands, bagpipers, customized bicycles, and a costumed saint and clown.
Based on this photo selection, you may be thinking about it as a display of cultural costumes, performances, popular culture, or even artistry. Maybe it's a display of community membership, holiday symbols, religious play, or something completely different.
So why talk about parades and other festive events?
Around the globe are parades, processions, festivals, and related festive events occurring daily that can introduce one to a world of diverse and similar cultural practices and beliefs.
While these ephemeral events may seem unchanging in structure in some ways, it's also an event that reflects what's on the minds of the people at that time.
There's an opportunity to learn about people and cultures through these public displays. This is one of many reasons why I enjoy a parade and am documenting them. When studying festive events, I try to find connections, patterns, and insights that challenge my typical thinking about the genre, event, people, place, and time. In a way, that phrase 'there's more than meets the eye' is an applicable cliché since I believe what you see in a parade is more than simply eye candy. It can reflect history, tradition, popular trends, local aesthetics, personal interests, community identity, and so much more.
*Photographs by Tiff Graham