27 April 2007

Get with the Pro-Cess!

Today marks what might be considered the real beginning of spring here in Olympia. Especially this year when temperature and views of the sun have been hovering well below average.

But meteorological fluctuations are no impediment to folks who want to reclaim the city's streets after a cold, wet winter. It's ArtsWalk time again! (see city's promo video) Thousands of people, some with an actual appreciation for art, will jam into the city's quaint downtown and mill about for hours, wandering into store's they've never visited, meeting friends, listening to scheduled and busking performers, and watching people.

I know, it's not such an uncommon thing these days. Everyone from tiny towns to big cities seems to do an ArtsWalk. But Olympia's got something unique: the original Procession of the Species.

[mp3] Bat Makumba: Maculele (clip)

The Procession is an amazing cultural event, a people's parade that celebrates the natural world. Participants -- and really, there's a very thin line between observers and participants -- dress up as elements, creatures, flowers, even trees. Organized by element (earth, water, fire, sky) they parade through the city's streets on Saturday evening to the accompaniment of musical/drumming groups, from loosely organized Drum Fun to the choreographed massive wall of sound known as Samba Olywa (video).

Processions have sprung up all over as people discover the magic of a parade that includes your neighbor's kids, but no politicians; men dressed as squid, but no commercial messages. But if your town doesn't have one, c'mon and enjoy ours. I'll see you there. And I'll and post photos next week.

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