37 Years of the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade gets underway in a few weeks…..
It all began at Chromo’s Bar and Grill. Chromos was located near Ernie Junior Tacos and down the block from the Hotel Taylor, an SRO in Old Town Pasadena. While some considered it nothing more than a blighted district in need of redevelopment others inhabited the neighborhood as a creative playground. Famous and not-so-famous artists rented cheap lofts and soon-to-be legendary bands rocked on at Chromo’s, Vitale’s, Hazel’s Bar and the Loch Ness Monster Pub. A perfect setting for something interesting to happen. And it did.
Pasadena is a city of many traditions, the most well-known being New Year’s Tournament of Roses. But if January 1st falls on a Sunday the parade is always held the following day. Peter Apanel (who would become Czar of the Doo Dah Parade) along with other Chromo’s officianados had a brainstorm: “What if we had our own parade?”
Take a look Back at Doo Dah’s illustrious Past:
Photos by Terry Miller
Apanel wrote “Whatever we did it would have to be just the opposite of what the Rose Parade does. They have a theme so we would have no theme. They have Judging and prizes, so we would have no judging and no prizes. Since none of us would be allowed in the Rose Parade, we would allow everyone in our parade.” They called it Doo Dah.
Thousands have since participated in or attended the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade, led each and every time by Snotty Scotty & the Hankies. People have come and gone and come back. It’s spawned numerous copycat parades across the nation.
In 1995, Light Bringer Project, a Pasadena-based nonprofit, inherited the Parade and perpetuated its spirit and energy. In 2010 Doo Dah relocated beyond the “Other Parade’s” route into East Pasadena where it now lives on.
Doo Dah means many things to many people ~ perhaps, a little something different to everyone. Wacky and weird? Sublime absurdity? Rite of reversal? Twisted sister of the Rose Parade? Probably all of the above.
The very first T-shirt had the words “First Occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade” emblazoned across the front. You have to wonder if they thought “maybe this thing’ll catch on.”
The curious place with the curious name. Chromo’s opened April 1, 1977 at 120 W. Colorado Boulevard. Most of those who came in were in their mid-twenties to early-thirties and had roots in the sixties. That means they had an active interest in music, art and partying. They also loved their beer and Chromo’s had plenty to go around. Perhaps, the scrawled massage on the men’s restroom said it all: “Chromo’s has a way with God’s unwanted.” If that’s so, owners Corky Peterson, Jim Kendall and Chris Gulker provided them with a suitable playground. It should surprise no one that this is the place where Doo Dah was hatched.