Thursday, August 28, 2014
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First Nations theme to fun parade

Creativity on display at annual Art City march

By: Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

Winnipeg Free Press

There were no lions and tigers... but there was a gigantic rapping bear, so that counts for something, right?

A veritable safari shook down in the streets of West Broadway on Sunday with more than 100 participants dodging raindrops as they queued through the residential neighbourhood.

Art City's 14th annual community parade drew costumed kids aplenty and boasted seven larger-than-life animal floats, which represented the animals of the Anishinaabe First Nations seven sacred teachings, said managing director Josh Ruth.

Each of the Anishinaabe's sacred animals represent a different attribute; there are the eagle (love), bison (respect), bear (courage), sabe (honesty), beaver (wisdom), wolf (humility) and turtle (truth).

Besides the fact the animal theme provided some awesome dress-up opportunities for parade-goers, it also celebrated the culture of some of Art City's aboriginal participants.

Located at 616 Broadway, Art City is a non-profit drop-in centre that offers free art classes for all ages.

"We want to honour their tradition and the fact that indigenous people for thousands of years have been looking to animals to help to understand how to be good stewards on this earth," said Ruth.

"Every year we work for the whole month of June on the parade with the participants," he continued, noting there is a different parade theme each year. Some past incarnations focused on soap-box derby cars and whales.

"We bring our art out into the streets and we just blast the neighbourhood with positivity and creativity."

The flagship parade is often the highlight of Art City's programming year.

"This is a chance for us to open our doors, let the art out, let the creativity out and show the city what it is that we do inside Art City every day," said Ruth.

And from the looks of things on Sunday, Art City students and staff are quasi-professional face-painters, fur-hat makers, glitterati and carpenters.

Studio 393, a subset of the Graffiti Art Gallery, crafted a 4.5-metre-tall, ferocious-looking bear, complete with a large honey pot, gold bling and a boom box.

Puppeteer, Asa Nodelman, dressed up in a three-metre-tall monkey suit with stilts. His felted fingers rivalled in length the arms of the surrounding small children.

Nodelman said he'd been in the Art City parade many times and tries to up the ante with his costume each year.

"Well, my feet are rotating, so we're adding a piece to prevent that so I don't trip over myself," Nodelman said as his furry paws got drilled into his wooden stilts.

Ruth said the majority of Art City's audience is between the ages of six and 14, and the majority of the parade-goers certainly fell into that group.

Gleeful children outnumbered the adults in the parade prep area on Young Street by at least two to one.

They ran excitedly between tables, getting their faces painted with whiskers, scales and glitter, collecting balloon animals and cardboard crowns, and decorating their bikes with stripes.

Eight-year-old Vinny Stace helped work on the turtle, wolf and bison floats with Art City.

"I like the arts, I like the snacks," he said of why he enjoys visiting the drop-in centre.

Vinny was looking forward to showing his handiwork to his parents on Sunday as the parade was set to march by his family's home.

Taryn Hall, 10, and Kenna Borland, 11, thought the parade was -- to quote them both in a word -- "awesome."

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