Pageantry – something missing in modern culture.
Festivals and celebrations that honor the Earth take many forms. They may be a beach clean-up, a day of speeches and music or picnics and educational presentations.
In the late 80s and early 90s in Santa Fe, New Mexico there was one of the most entertaining and fulfilling Earth festivals I have ever encountered. Founder Chris Wells and John McCloud of Bread and Puppet Theater brought together artists, musicians, storytellers, dancers, performers, stilt walkers, puppeteers and a host of other talented people to create a celebration like no other. All Species Day. A day when all the creatures of the earth are invited into town to participate in singing, speeches, a parade, outdoor theatrical performances, native dances and much much more.
Starting several months in advance a warehouse space is procured to build props, produce art and practice performance pieces. The entire community becomes involved and in particular various youth groups are encouraged to attend after school and on weekends to learn skills in stilt walking, painting, paper mache sculpture, mask making and puppeteering. Each group chooses their own type presentation on how they wish to represent their favorite species during the pageant. New and lasting friendships are formed in the diverse group of all ages and backgrounds.
The months of hard work culminate on All Species Day when all the earths creatures gather on the plaza in Santa Fe for an invocation, prayers, songs and short speeches. This is then followed by a non motorized parade through town to a nearby park. At the park a theatrical play is performed that pits good vs. evil in an earth based story. Of course good always wins as the story is resolved and the earth is saved. I have seen wonderful stories about the Deforestation of Elk Mountain, the Exxon Valdez, The Iroquois Creation Myth, the Amazing Web of Life Circus and Turtle Island. After the main performance there are always other side shows with puppets, dances, music, info. booths, tipis and yurts for story telling and many other presentations the numerous groups have dreamed up. It is a day for the arts, fun and celebration to honor all the creatures with whom we share the earth. It is unique as an arts event, the participatory nature and the pageantry. Be inspired.
(this 1987 Earth Stone Station video is 10 min. in length)