Rainbow flags, stilts, banners, drummers, trumpeters.
All of the above came with the crowds marching from Somerville to Cambridge on Oct 13 while displaying, dancing, shouting, and—yes, honking!—to the theme of this year’s festival: “We All Need a Home: Housing for All, Sanctuary for All, A Healthy Planet for All.”
The scene was full of peace and love and social justice, with hundreds of protestors in chants and onlookers in the thousands. Roughly a two-and-a-half-hour walk, it’s no ordinary parade. As always, Honk! features bands the organization defines as “socially engaged.”
Among the wacky costumes and bands of all shapes and sizes, many used the parade as a launchpad for conversations and action. Seen in the crowd, State Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville) said she believes that in such a divisive time, these kinds of get-togethers are especially important.
“Since the 2016 presidential election, the level of distress and dismay among my constituents has skyrocketed,” she said. “Not just because of some kind of abstract political differences but because of federal policies which hurt people.”
People on the parade route made noise about healthcare, immigration, and climate change, among other issues. Lisa Brukilacchio, director of the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Somerville Community Health Agenda, came dressed as a butterfly. To show the importance of protecting the environment for pollinators and to show that migrants—butterflies as well as people—make everyone’s lives richer, she was surrounded by bees from the Somerville Growing Center. Costumes and art, Brukilacchio said, can change minds.
In total, 25 bands strutted their stuff down Mass Ave, according to Honk! Each had a unique perspective; one float, designed by students in a Tufts anthropology course on “Myth, Ritual, and Symbol,” displayed the Earth as desert, what its owners called a “melting Earth cream cone.” Like others on the road, it was an opportunity to highlight work that’s being done, as well as work that needs to be done. Many participants hope people will respond to their displays by getting involved in a new organization.
“If you want to shift people’s perspectives, you’ve got to do something out of the ordinary,” Brukilacchio said. “Art is really good for getting people to think about things in a different way. … If a bunch of us can dress up and do weird things in the streets, maybe there’s a reason for that.”
Story published in collaboration with Somerville Neighborhood News.