MayDay 2011 gives 'Caws to Unite' in Powderhorn Park

MayDay 2011 gives 'Caws to Unite' in Powderhorn Park
Amy Wurdock

Many Minnesotans know about In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, the organization that took over a former adult movie theater on Lake Street in 1988 and changed the neighborhood -- and Minneapolis -- forever. The towering fantastical puppets may be the company's most recognizable element in its theater productions, outdone only by its famous MayDay Parade and Festival, an event which features a variety of giant puppets and masked creatures numbering in the dozens.

The first MayDay celebration was in the spring of 1975, and was a gift to the community that supported this unique company, as well as a way to get people outside after wintertime. Decades later, the annual MayDay celebration is still going strong. This Sunday, parade participants will once again begin their walk at Bloomington Avenue and 26th Street in South Minneapolis.

MayDay 2011 gives 'Caws to Unite' in Powderhorn Park
Amy Wurdock

The charm of this particular parade is that it is not dotted with shiny corporate mascots, but a hodge-podge of homemade signs, costumes, and masks. Adults and children alike march in the event, which every year proves to be a display of immense creativity at the mercy of cardboard boxes and papier mache. Dancers, cyclists, baton-twirlers, and activists cheerfully walk the familiar route down Bloomington Avenue to 34th Street East, where everyone spills into Powderhorn Park for the Tree of Life Ceremony.

As described on the theater's website, the ceremony involves "the steady beating of drums, a resplendent red Sun Flotilla paddles the Sun from across the lake to the shore where the Tree of Life sleeps, waiting to be reawakened." This culminates in a group sing-a-long of "You Are My Sunshine," which is quite a spectacular experience to have with the thousands who attend.

The festivities don't conclude there. People are encouraged to relax in the park until sunset among food and arts vendors, and performers.

This year's parade theme is "Caws to Unite." The parade route is primarily along Bloomington Avenue, and begins at 1 p.m. at 26th Street. The Tree of Life ceremony begins at approximately 3:30 p.m. in Powderhorn Park. Visit In the Heart of the Beast for more information on parking, the parade route, rain dates, and to read more about the history of the parade.

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