Sometimes it’s surprising to realize that an odd event has become a tradition, and that’s certainly the case with Pasadena’s Occasional Doo Dah Parade. Known as the twisted sister of the conventional Rose Parade, Doo Dah began as a grassroots event in 1978 and quickly gained national attention for its eccentric and irreverent satire.
Amazingly, the Doo Dah even surpassed the Rose Parade to be named “America’s Best Parade” by Reader’s Digest, and will mark its 40th anniversary on Nov. 19 with yet another edition of eccentricity along Colorado Boulevard. But first, the parade must find its new queen, and the tryouts will take place Saturday at the Doo Dah’s unofficial headquarters: the American Legion Bar, 179 N. Vinedo Ave., Pasadena.
“I’ve gotten calls from people wanting to try out already, because this is the 40th anniversary,” says Patty Hurley, who oversees the parade with Tom Coston, her partner in the Light Bringer Project arts collective. “Some would say Doo Dah needs to remain 39 forever, but I think that it will be fun this year to celebrate another full decade.”
This year’s tryouts and parade will find the Doo Dah still recovering from the loss of John Scott Finnell, who served as the longtime leader of longtime Doo Dah house band Snotty Scotty and the Hankies until his untimely death two weeks before the 2016 tryouts.
Another longtime Doo Dah band, New Astroturf, will take the lead on Saturday in entertaining attendees with a fast and furious string of colorful rock covers. Last year’s Doo Dah Queen, Meg Cole, will lead her own band Ruby Chard and the FunGuys, through a set at the festivities as well.
Individuals of all genders, shapes, ages and persuasions, including a dog, will be testing their fate to become queen. Contestants are usually outnumbered by costumed judges, who include many former queens, veteran parade entrants, tryout supporters and the curious public.
The town hall setting with long tables in beer-fest style, roast beef sandwiches and Doo Dah House Band New Astroturf, will set the mood for the lively caucus. Among those who have perennially tried out are, Count Smokula, Santa’s Bad Elf, the Swami from El Monte, Sabrina the Stimulus Package, Miss Boy Frances and former Queen Eric(a) Valentine with his searing guitar licks.