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Michael Coleman named Doo Dah Parade's 'Less-Than-Grand Marshal'

By Rick Rouan The Columbus Dispatch  •  Friday March 11, 2016 10:26 AM


Former Mayor Michael B. Coleman left his office at city hall, but he hasn’t stepped out of the spotlight.

Coleman will be the “Less-Than-Grand Marshal” for the 2016 Doo Dah Parade, which will take over the Short North, Victorian Village, ItalianVillage and Harrison West on July 4.

The 33 rd annual parade starts at 1 p.m., but attendees are invited to start lining up at noon. A block party will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Coleman finished his fourth term as mayor at the end of 2015 and is Columbus' longest-serving mayor. He apparently made it through with his sense of humor intact.

COLUMBUS (Chetan Rakieten/Sean Rowe) -- Organizers call it the craziest parade in history. And, if you were there in the Short North District Saturday, you probably would agree with them.Revelers say The Doo Dah Parade -- which always takes place the day after the Fourth of July holiday -- is all about expressing yourself.And, this parade has to be seen to be believed.Watch the video player above! 

The 32nd Annual Doo Dah Parade triumphantly celebrates community lunacy and liberty"Tony Bentivegna. The recent 32nd Annual Doo Dah Parade triumphantly celebrated community lunacy and liberty on hallowed ground at Goodale Park while also boasting a free music block party at High Street and Buttles Avenue that ran from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Yes, a full contingent of Fourth of July festivities unbroken, for once, by the merciless rain seemingly plaguing every big locally planned event lately."  Composed, edited and posted by Managing Editor Breck J. Hapner

A Media Doo Dah Virgin's full report of Doo Dah Day!  My experience at the Doo Dah Parade.  By Kristian Campana of 

AWL- The Dabbling Doom of Doo Dah!! - The Artist Wrestling League.  You'll wrestle with yourself over how politically incorrect, yet hilarious these kids are.

Columbus Underground Photos 2015  "The 32nd annual Doo Dah Parade took place on this sunny (finally) afternoon of July 4th. Marchers of all shapes and sizes took to the streets of Victorian Village to entertain the thousands that turned out to partake in the festivities. - Matt Ellis is a freelance photographer who covers bands that visit the city and the Columbus Crew MLS team. More about Matt can be found at Matt Ellis Photography

Doo Dah 2015 Pic's by JEFF HAGOOD "The Doo Dah Parade is a satirical look at current events and a free form self expression held every year in Columbus on July 4th. It's always very entertaining and lots of laughs as long as you're not too serious!!"  Jeff Hagood

 Columbus Dispatch photos & Article by "Ah, so this is Doo Dah, the self-proclaimed “Worst Parade East of the Mississippi,” an express-yourself spectacle now in its 32nd year. The procession, which runs across Buttles, up Neil, along Second avenues and down N. High Street, kicked off at 1 p.m. with a group singalong of The Star- Spangled Banner led by a man in electric-pink fishnet stockings."

Columbus, Ohio USA
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Eyes on Doo Dah
The 32nd Somehow annual doo Dah Parade
By Allex Spires
September/October 2015 Issue

PHOTOS: Doo Dah Parade Photos Page 16 and Page 17 by Michael Gruber
Page 24 and Page 25 by Larry Hamill

 Saturday, the Fourth day of July in the Hundred-Score-and-Five-and-Tenth year since B.C.(E.)

The author in action. Photo © Michael Gruber

People uniformed and in plainclothes, strange clothes, and costumes – sandaled, booted, barefooted, swamp-footed, even web-footed – going on foot, roller skate, bicycle, motorcycle, art car, cop car, and golf cart wanted to know what our entry was about.

No one seemed to comprehend that we really were just four guys who felt like joining the Doo Dah Parade with no agenda. We wore tuxedo tees and eyeball masks, just for the sake of doing it. We fit the parade’s theme: “I am Doo Dah!” like quim fits dork, and that was good enough.

We had big balls: beach balls as big as our heads, and we’d coated them in papier mache made from old copies of the Short North Gazette. My friend DJ had cut two holes into each one – one to put the head through and one to see out through – and laid the pantyhose pupils with superglue. We painted the whites with ivory-white spray paint and glued down red yarn for the veins. I painted the irises to his specifications, one each: red, blue, brown, and green.

The day of the parade, four of us stepped out dressed in a tuxedo tee DJ had ordered and an eyeball helmet with a novelty top hat glued to it. Then, full of grass and good ale, we parked and sat in the grass by Goodale on Park, on the eastern edge of grassy Goodale Park. From there we watched the parade lineup.

We were ready at noon, and we were lucky for nearby porta-johns because the parade didn’t start till 1 p.m., and we didn’t start marching till 1:15.

Four eyes fully in motion with the movement of the parade made their way to the corner of Park and Buttles. From there, where the masses were lining the roadway, leaning in to see, looking on from across Columbus and far beyond, we, the Eyes, looked strangely back and then stepped forward, with great oddity, down the middle of the street, at one-and-a-half miles per hour. We became the stuff of dreams.

Ahead of us we could only see weird wizards, jiggly hula gals, gyrating belly dancers, and silly costumed drummers.

From behind, a gaggle of overambitious, supercilious improv comics, hauling an “Improv Wars” sign on a red Radio Flyer, kept crowding us, walking backward without watching where they were going, failing to stop when we stopped, and leaping into our group (one was dressed as a fairy and leapt often throughout the course of the parade). Time-and-again we found ourselves intermittently stuck in their dazed improvised midst.

George Burns suggests the best way to do improv is to know where you’ve come from and to watch where you’re going. If they had been drivers we would all have been killed! What a comical improvisation, eh, Tracy Morgan?

From the curbs to the sidewalks on either side of us, down the arboreally brimmed Victorian streets, seemed to be everyone else … everybody from around town and everywhere else.

None of them could see the individuals we were, only the sclerae (whites), corneal vessels (veins), colored iris highlights, and pupils of our eyeball masks. Wearing short toppers and unblinking, we were four eyes, so that’s what they called us: “Eyeballs” and “Eyes.”

Introverted Andrew Warden in the brown eyeball had started out terrified, worried it would be more formal and heavily officiated, but through the loose nature of the parade and his masked anonymity, he grew very comfortable. By the end, he felt as if were walking in a dream. Dehydration and inebriation led him to an out-of-body sense of total surrealism that he later described as euphoric.

“I was overwhelmed in the best possible way,” he told me. “I was given access to and simultaneously protected from celebrity by my anonymity.”

Ben Jammin in the red eye loved getting to play his guitar consistently for at least an hour and a half and was surprised and pleased to learn that he injured his fingers playing so hard for so long performing for an enormous crowd. Ben never gets to play for crowds, and platinum-selling recording artists sometimes have audiences as large as Ben had at Doo Dah. He felt his ego being stroked every time he’d pivot and strum a chord because the crowd would erupt like a thunder of madmen.

Under the green eyeball mask, DJ was trying to make sure these eyes he’d cooked-up were anything but forgettable. He’d been Chuck E. Cheese and knew how to be a costumed character marching around.

He was waving and gesturing and leaping, greeting the crowds. Whenever he could, he’d snatch someone’s camera and photograph them. He says the whole eyeball thing has something to do with what he calls “The Theory of Obscurity.”

He explained, “No one sees who we are, but we know who we are… and we see who they are.”

And myself? I wore the blue eye and took voice notes on my EyeDroid to write a story about being an entrant in the Doo Dah Parade. By the time you get to read this, I’ll have gotten around to writing it. I’m writing it now! You’re reading it.

I think I learned how Verne Troyer felt at the height of his célèbre. No one knew his name, we only knew Mini-Me. He was Mini-Me in all our eyes and minds, Mini-Me in our hearts. And now, similarly, we were no longer ourselves, no longer private individuals. We were the “Eyeballs” and the “Eyes.” We were the big show. We were the “it” that people had gone outside to see.

We’d set ourselves up to be subjected to the scrutiny of the public who now owned us, and it seems they approved of what looked back. Upon seeing us marching as eyes, several of the tens of thousands of people along the parade route shouted out, “The Eyes have it!”

“Hey, you Eyes!”


“Hey, Eyeballs!”

“Eyeballs, over here!”

“Hey, Eyeballs! Let me get your photo!”

We would turn, as if a Warhol Monroe giving four poses at once, and then wait while people turned on their ‘phones. Everyone had to have a photo with us Eyes: drunken people wanted to be photographed dancing with the Eyeballs, sober people wanted to be photographed staring at us, children wanted to be photographed hugging and high-fiving the Eyes, shortsighted photographers with official-looking-yet-wholly-unnecessarily-long lenses wanted to pose the Eyeballs for extended sessions. They’d get upset that we couldn’t see anything not directly in front of us so we missed many waves and gesticulated cues before having to move on.

By the time we reached the Sahara-esque home stretch down High Street, it became an endurance test. The heat was almost a stroke too much. After the tree-lined suburban route down Buttles, up Neil, and back up Hubbard, hitting the cosmopolitan reaches of High in the Short North was like stepping out of an oasis into Hell. It was fine and fun, but we were also wearing black shirts and sweating profusely under eyeball masks with no ventilation.

Tired, unfocused, and dehydrated, we tried to work both sides of the wide street but we had no earholes. Every word from any direction around us came through the pupil. Any call we heard required that we rotate a full 360-degrees to find the owner of the voice. But there was also loud music to contend with, a humongous crowd of people shouting and cheering, and the improv comics confusedly cutting between us. We could hardly hear each other. If we heard someone, we would then have to make a full 360-degree revolution to find them.

The parade’s end came as a shocker. Imagine you’ve spent the better part of an hour or more marching down roads thronged by countless cheering multitudes. They wore shirts showing every possible projection of plaid, angle of waving flag, and every known pro-American and anti-American sentiment; every paisley pattern, Hawai’ian pattern, flower pattern, and stripe pattern; all the polka dots, spots, speckles, waves, and fractals; and every cartoon graphic concept from Mickey Mouse to a fellatiating fish. Suddenly you’re in a brick alleyway, devoid of all but the entry in front of you.

“Is that it?” DJ looked around at the sudden barrenness of our surroundings. “Is the parade over?”

I nodded. “Yep.”

Two Photograhers Doing Doo Dah
Larry Hamill and Michael Gruber
September/October 2015 Issue

Photographers Larry Hamill (left) and Michael Gruber have been shooting the annual Doo Dah Parade for years. Photo © August Brunsman III


SNG: Who is your favorite photographer? – or one or two you admire or who have inspired you.
LH: I don’t have a favorite. I just go with the images that impact me. The “stature” of the shooter doesn’t really make a difference but the shot does.

SNG: Are there special preparations or strategies used in photographing the parade?
LH: I charge my batteries. I put in fresh batteries and a flash in the camera and have my disc ready. I arrive early. I go an hour and a half before it starts to the staging area where people are hanging out because it’s more casual. The last several years, I have been using a flash on occasion to enhance the photographs.

SNG: How has the parade changed or evolved since your first shoot?
LH: The first parade was somewhat small. It is nice to see it evolve.

SNG: What are some of your most aggravating and memorable moments?
LH: I never had an aggravating moment. Memorable moments include the “Celestial Concubines,” “Buns of Heaven,” “Booger King,” and Arnett Howard’s Devilish Trumpetor.”

SNG: Is there any one photo that stands out as your best?
LH: Hopefully the next one.

SNG: Any favorite marchers?
LH: I like the longevity of the “Marching Fidels.”

SNG: I don't imagine you are able to photograph everyone. How much of the parade do you typically capture?
LH: I try to get like 70 percent of it. I photograph the beginning of the parade and the Doo Dah people carrying instruments, and then I look for the most imaginative people in the parade. I just photograph what to me looks interesting. The political things I’m not so much into. The ones that make fun of politics I really like, but ones that are promoting themselves don’t do a whole lot for me. Nobody’s paying me, so I’m just trying to have fun.

SNG: What do you typically do when the parade ends?
LH: The Browning’s have a wonderful post parade party off Neil Avenue.


SNG: What is your occupation, education, age?
MG: I am an insurance agent. I also spend just as much time helping as a ComFest organizer. I graduated with a degree in political science many years ago – before OSU had a "The" in front of it. I just attained 61 years.

SNG: How long have you been photographing the Doo Dah Parade?
MG: I'm not sure. Most seriously in the last decade.

SNG: Tell us a little bit about your background as a photographer. When did you first pick up a camera?
MG: I first picked up a real camera in high school. I helped re-open a long dormant darkroom at the school and learned a bit about mixing chemicals, using an enlarger and printing black and white pictures. My first SLR camera was an East German Hanimex Praktica Super TL - a "commie camera" made in East Germany. Now I use a Canon 7D with my favorite lens - Canon 70 -200mm f2.8.

SNG: Who is your favorite photographer? – or one or two you admire or who have inspired you.
MG: My favorite photographer is my daughter Mara. I put a camera in her hands when she was young and she went on to get her degree in photography at OU and has a job in her field. (Mara took the photo of the girl at ComFest with the rainbow flag standing up to the street preachers.) Inspired by Ansel Adams, Bob Gruen, Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and all photographers who risk their lives as photojournalists around the world.

SNG: Are there special preparations or strategies used in photographing the parade?
MG: Preparations and strategies seem oxymoronic when talking about Doo Dah. All I do is check the weather report and bring a bottle of water. The rest just unfolds before me.

SNG: How has the parade changed or evolved since your first shoot?
MG: The parade is always driven by recent local and national events, so the parade shape shifts with the current political climate. There are always laugh out loud moments during each parade.

SNG: What are some of your most aggravating and memorable moments?
MG: The only aggravation would be the weather, but even that has never stopped me from getting some fun shots. I always enjoy the singing of the National Anthem at the start of the parade. Nobody really has a great singing voice, but it always sounds great. it's always great seeing lots of friends along the parade route.

SNG: Is there any one photo that stands out as your best?
MG: No, my best is probably a shot I missed.

SNG: Any favorite marchers?
MG: The Marching Fidels of course. "To the left, to the left..." You have to love them.

SNG: I don't imagine you are able to photograph everyone. How much of the parade do you typically capture?
MG: I never try to get an image of everyone. I walk the parade route and shoot what interests me. I like to catch some of the same parts of the parade at different points along the route. I run ahead through alleys and cut back to parts I have already seen but I might not have gotten the best shot. Some of the folks watching the parade are as interesting as the parade participants.

SNG: What do you typically do when the parade ends?
MG: Either head for our family picnic or have a quick beer.

Photographers Larry Hamill (left) and Michael Gruber have been shooting the annual Doo Dah Parade for years. Their 2015 photos are included in this issue – 

PHOTOS: Doo Dah Parade Photos Page 16 and Page 17 by Michael Gruber
Page 24 and Page 25 by Larry Hamill 


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 Or, you can mail a check to “Friends of Doo Dah”, 581 Reinhard Avenue, Columbus, OH  43206-2854.  All contributors will be listed on our  Doo Dah Poster, T-Shirts and web-site.


NEW FOR 2013...Contributors will get a wacky 2013 special Doo Dah Poster proclaiming that you are a 2013 Contributor!


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