Doo Dah Parade: Queen Tryouts

Have what it takes to be the royal emissary of the zany strut?

Brian Biery

Heads that wear crowns have long been described as uneasy — we pause to tip our hat to William Shakespeare here — but a royal person isn't always shown rocking a sparkly tiara or other similarly bejeweled noggin-topper.

Sometimes, instead of a crown, a queen wears a top hat, or paper flowers, or twinkly lights, or a quirky combination of the three. That is, of course, if that queen is heading up an especially zany event like Pasadena's long-running, laffy-wacky, anything-goes-y Doo Dah Parade.

As is tradition with many other processions of note, the annual Crown City strut has a respected and admired queen at its helm, a royal personage whose mere presence brings many benedictions to the esteemed event.

But how she or he came to the role of queen is a tale that begins long before the Doo Dah Parade, and typically starts with a cast of colorfully attired contestants arriving at the American Legion Bar to show off their best stuff.

Such stuff might be a musical performance, or imitating bird calls, or some tap dancing, but show it they shall, with oomph, on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 22.

That's the 2016 date for Queen Tryouts, while the Doo Dah Parade will march, with not too much dignity but oodles of panache and humor, on Saturday, Nov. 20.

That means the new queen will have a full five weeks, or nearly, to enjoy her or his reign, though official appointments and ribbon-cutting photo ops may be few. Still, the queen will need to hold the Doo Dah's have-fun, be-creative tenets at heart and lead the whimsical way to the official event.

An event that started decades ago as an offbeat answer to the stately Tournament of Roses. An event that's hopped around the calendar over the years, with cheek and devil-may-care-a-tude. An event that has tweaked its location, and, yes, rarely starts on time (the 11 a.m. on the web site should be read as "11-a.m.-ish, probably closer to 11:15, so maybe bring a book").

That is not a complaint in the least. On the contrary, the Doo Dah's commitment to remaining light-hearted, unworried, and it's-all-goodly is commendable. ("Remember the rules: DOO DAH RULES!" is about the only firm instruction a potential participant will receive.)

As for participants? It still costs ten bucks to enter, and you can dress up how you want to dress up. That's been the way of the Doo Dah for about a thousand years (which is like 962 years longer than the Doo Dah has been around, but this is a parade that embraces exaggeration and hyperbole with glee).

As for the 39th annual Doo Dah Parade Queen? Judges will make that important determination after all the auditions conclude on Oct. 22.

Crock pot chili, hot dogs, and cold brews will keep contenders and judges fortified at the American Legion Bar, as hopeful after hopeful takes to the stage, in full, fabulous regalia, to play the harmonica or do a headstand or ably enact both at the same time.

Best of luck to the queens-in-waiting, the Doo Dah staff, and the whole quirky-chaotic, heart-huge happening to come. No crowns are required for this queen, just an approach to doing life the Doo Dah way. (See the rules above for further clarification.)

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