Bluebird skies overhead and warm sun shone on a Thursday evening at the Senior Center in Roosevelt Park, as participants gathered for an Absurd April Fool’s Day parade. Brightly colored costumes, musicians, kids of all ages, a cockatoo and a cat in a harness all prepared to walk a short loop from Roosevelt Park to Main Street and back to bring a little absurdity to town.
Organized by members of Longmont’s Left Hand Artist Group (LHAG), the goal was to bring something bright and ridiculous to the world. A ‘karma wash’ was set up near the entrance to the Senior Center, grab bags of random goodies were free for the taking and the foolish forces marshaled to march past two senior living centers.
Amy Heneghan, a board member for LHAG, was inspired by a similar parade held in Occidental, CA. She’d wanted to do something like it, but the timing hadn’t been right. After the tough year of 2020, she decided to go for it. Planning for the event started in February, with the help of some other members of the artist group.
Prior to the event, Heneghan and Belinda Pelletier, another group member, met to discuss the final details.
“After the events on March 22nd in Boulder, we debated canceling the parade,” Heneghan explained. “Belinda said we should not postpone joy.”
On March 22, an assailant armed with a rifle went into a Boulder King Soopers where he shot and killed ten people including a police officer and staff members of the store. The incident shocked and scared the local community, who still mourn the tragic loss of these individuals.
“This is something Amy was inspired to do, and the timing of it makes it so much sweeter,” Pelletier said, referring to the pandemic. “I’m starting to see these memories on social media from last year, of the beginning of lockdown.”
“It feels like the right time, and the right place. Bringing some light and hope to the community, being a little fearless, with a kazoo and a wacky costume,” Heneghan added.
More than fifty people showed up for the parade, resplendent in bright colors and wacky accessories. Starting at the Senior Center at Longs Peak Avenue and Pratt Street, the route took parade-goers past Saint Vrain Manor and Village Place, two senior living buildings near the heart of downtown Longmont. A handful of residents watched the parade from Saint Vrain Manor, cheering and waving.
“We’re pretty new here, so we decided to come out and celebrate the spirit of Longmont,” said Jennifer McCarthy, a resident of Longmont and member of the artist group.
“It’s such a fun, loving community with a small-town heart. It was a great way to bring joy to the retirement homes. The residents were waving at us. We’ve all been inside for many, many months so it was great to enjoy a gorgeous day,” McCarthy said.
As the parade route made a path down Main Street, passing cars honked and cheered. The bright colors brought out smiles from surprised bystanders.
Josh Enlow, a Longmont resident, was standing in the Cheba Hut parking lot as the parade went by. “I wasn’t expecting this, it definitely made my day,” he said. “I’m glad they’re out here doing it, putting smiles on people’s faces.”
Katie Orton, another Longmont resident and parade participant was happy to be a part of it. “Our expectation was that it was a prank, we were excited that it wasn’t,” she said.
“We needed something a little silly, a reason to get wacky. Next year I’ll have to really up my game with a costume,” Orton added.
The events wrapped up around 7 p.m., with pool noodle battles, music and a lot of laughter. Heneghan and Pelletier both agreed, the event was fantastically fun and well exceeded their expectations.
The Absurd April Fool’s Parade was the third event of its nature organized by Heneghan and LHAG. The first, a Human Lumeneria in early December 2020, was to bring hope and light downtown. Another, Lanterns Around Loomiller, was held on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr Day in January.
“I think it’s important for the growth of the Left Hand Artist Group,” Heneghan said. “They are free for the community to join, to show we’re here, we’re not giving up, we’re moving forward. I joined the group to find my community, be involved in the town and meet other creative people. LHAG welcomes all types of creatives.”