Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Carnival: Taipei’s Mardi Gras

The three-hour-long carnivalesque Dream Parade kicks off tomorrow at 3pm at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall plaza’s main gateway and includes everything from firebreathers to homemade arts and crafts, drummers and stilt walkers

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Participants in last year’s Dream Parade enjoy their time in the spotlight.

Photo: Diane Baker, Taipei Times

The annual fall madness that is the Dream Community’s (夢想社區) Dream Parade will descend on Taipei tomorrow afternoon in a riotous technicolor blend of costumes, floats, music and participants of all ages. Take one part Mardi Gras, one part Rio carnival, a bit of Burning Man and some homemade arts and crafts and mix in some Aboriginal and Hakka cultures and you get a three-hour-long parade the likes of which you’ll never forget.

There will be stilt walkers, puppeteers, lots of drummers and dancers and, hopefully, a repeat appearance by a group of clown-costumed marchers belonging to something called the Laughter Yoga Club. You are also likely to see a samba dance team of over 50s ladies in midrift-baring outfits who have become a regular feature of the parade.

Families from the Dream Community in Sijhih (汐止), New Taipei City (新北市) — who have to take part in the parade and other annual festivities to live there — along with student and community groups from around the country have been busy the past couple of weeks building floats and making costumes.

Altogether, more than 100 groups will be taking part, Dream Community founder Gordon Tsai (蔡聰明) said in an interview on Monday.

Tsai’s guiding belief is that you don’t need a lot of money or have to be a professional artist to be creative or to have art in your life and he has made it his mission in life to spread the word around Taiwan.

There is no specific theme to this year’s parade, Tsai said, and everyone is free to do what they want.

However, each year the Dream Community invites artists from what Tsai calls “sister carnival cities” to take part in the parade. Last year saw a group of German artists from Berlin in the spotlight. This year the special guests are from New Orleans, including a traditional marching band, he said.

Tsai says they have built an enormous Mardi Gras style float that is about three-stories high, and there will be a lot of bead tossers ready to delight the crowd.

There is also a team from Japan and one from Nice, France, in town for the parade, he said.

Close to 25 teams made up of elementary-school children, who hail from Aboriginal townships around the nation, will compete in the National Dream Cup Samba Drum competition, where they will be judged on their drumming skills, choreography and enthusiasm as they march. Each band has defeated local competition to be able to make the trip to Taipei. Some Aboriginal teams include dancers and singers in the form of older children or parents of the drummers.

The parade starts at 3pm and is scheduled to finish between 5:30pm and 6pm. The route is 1.2km long, beginning at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall plaza’s main gateway. The marchers will head up Zhongshan South Road (中山南路) to Renai Road (仁愛路), where the parade will turn right and head toward Linsen South Road (林森南路) before making a U-turn and heading back to Ketagalan Boulevard (凱達格蘭大道). The parade ends at a stage area in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

There is a post-parade stage show on Ketagalan Boulevard that is scheduled to run from 6pm to 8pm.

The parade, which is cosponsored by the Taipei City Government, draws a crowd that usually bunches up near the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. Less crowded spots to watch the fun — including Tsai’s firebreathing antics — can be found along Ren Ai Road, though there may not be many Mardi Gras beads left by that point.

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