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What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been: 35 Years of the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade


August 15, 2012 - January 13, 2013

On View 12:00 to 5:00 pm Wednesdays through Sundays



Please join us for these special programs,

presented in conjunction with this exhibition:

Sunday, September 23, 4:00 to 7:00 pm - Doo Dah on the Green (live music featurning Doo Dah bands)

Thursday, November 8, 7:30 pm -- Doo Dah Deconstructed (Panel Discussion)

Friday, November 30, 6:30 to 9:00 pm -- Deja Doo Dah: We Show...You Tell (audience participation)

For details, visit the Programs & Events page.


This colorful, fun-filled exhibition will celebrate the wacky world of Doo Dah, named “America’s Best Parade” by none other than Reader’s Digest.  The parade has garnered national and international attention, and spawned copy cat parades elsewhere, including in Columbus, Ohio, and Ocean City, New Jersey.

Beginning in 1978, the “occasional” Doo Dah parade took place sporadically: changing dates, season, and location in its characteristically casual – and some might say – disorganized way.  The parade has always been controversial.  Its detractors dismiss it as derivative, decry its in-your-face sexual and political humor, and are embarrassed to have it take place in a city such as Pasadena. Its supporters, who include former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, comedian Jay Leno, and actor Tom Hanks, say, yes…, that’s the point.  No theme, no rules. Just glorious creativity and raucous eccentricity.

Named after an obscure 1960s British rock band, Doo Dah is a people’s parade.  Anyone can apply to be an entrant, and homemade conveyances and walking entries are encouraged.  Tips for entrants include: arrive early.  There is no marching order; you choose your place on a first come, first serve basis.  Another tip: no throwing of marshmallows; they clog bicycle spokes. 

It has even been critically reviewed.  Dr. Denise Lawrence, Director of the Center for Visual Anthropology at USC, asserted that the parade demonstrated the “rite of reversal” which anthropologists have found to occur in many societies, primitive and modern.  These rites provide individuals with an opportunity to step outside their normal everyday social roles and relationships to engage in alternate forms of behavior.  “Ultimately,” she concluded, “the Doo Dah and similar events give a community, both audience and participants, an opportunity to unite for one day in a celebration of diversity.”

PMH’s exhibition What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been will include a photo wall of parade and crowd shots; vignettes of entries – including the Synchronized Precision Marching Briefcase Drill Team; costumes and memorabilia of various Queens and music groups.  There may be more; but, to quote Ann Erdman, the Grand Marshal of the 2012 parade, “…this is Doo Dah after all, and one never knows…”

The exhibition is curated by a consortium of individuals including Tom Coston, Patricia Hurley, and Rosalind Schoen, all of Light Bringer Project, which sponsors the Parade; as well as Sue Behrens and Steve Vargas.

Photos by Joe Messinger. Top: Doo Dah Fire Department, right: Showers


Hours: 12:00 Noon to 5:00 pm Wednesdays through Sundays.

Admission: $7 General; $6 Students & Seniors; Members & Children under 12 Free; Active Duty Military Personnel & Their Families Free.

Community Wednesday: Free admission every “Community Wednesday” to anyone who lives, works or is a student in any of the following local communities: Alhambra, Altadena, Arcadia, Bradbury, Duarte, Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Glendale, Highland Park, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Monrovia, Monterey Park, Pasadena, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and Temple City.  Please mention this offer and show some form of i.d. in the Museum Store.





470 West Walnut Street ~ Pasadena, CA 91103 ~ Ph 626.577.1660 ~ Fax 626.577.1662 ~