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The Daily Tar Heel

Hillsborough to host Handmade Parade, featuring puppets

500 people are expected to attend

The annual Handmade Parade will take place this Saturday afternoon. The puppets in the parade have steadily gotten larger every year. 

Courtesy of the Hillsborough Arts Council.
The annual Handmade Parade will take place this Saturday afternoon. The puppets in the parade have steadily gotten larger every year. Courtesy of the Hillsborough Arts Council.

Giant puppets, musicians and dancers will soon take over downtown Hillsborough, gamboling down the town’s main thoroughfare.

The third annual Handmade Parade, sponsored by the Hillsborough Arts Council, will be held Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and is designed as a hands-on experience for attendees.

Organizers said the parade, which will begin at the Old Orange County Courthouse, has already grown to match the giant proportions of its puppets.

“I’m confident that we’re going to have well over 500 participants this year,” said Mark Donley, an artistic director of the event. “Which is amazing, isn’t it?

“I was joking that for a town the size of Hillsborough that means like half the town is marching in the parade, and the other half is watching it.”

Donley said people from across the Triangle have come to construct the giant puppets, which he said live up to their description.

“We’ve gotten to the point where our puppets have been restricted by two things,” he said. “The height is the power lines, and the width is the width of the street.”

This year’s theme, “Eno River Rhythm,” encourages participants to look to nature for musical and constructional inspiration.

“We wanted to create a parade where people were thinking not only about the costumes and puppets that they’re creating, but the movement, the motion, the migration and all the words that go with that word rhythm,” said Donley.

The Magic of African Rhythm, a local group of African artists, led workshops over the summer to help get people involved in the parade, member Maisha Shabu said.

They taught people how to design and dance with kanga, a traditional East African textile used in fishing and dance, she said.

“What they’re doing is combining the visual arts, through textile design from Africa that is somewhat connected to the water, and they’re including the rhythm through drumming,” Shabu said.

Donovan Zimmerman, co-founder of Paperhand Puppet Intervention, said the group has participated in the parade each year. The group is responsible for the puppet pageants at the Forest Theatre at UNC.

Zimmerman said people who want to get involved Saturday can look for a U-Haul truck surrounded by puppets.

“We’ll bring out quite a significant host of giant puppets and masks and things,” he said. “We try to get people to carry for us and add their own energy to the celebration.”

Contact the City Editor ?at citydesk@unc.edu.

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