Monday, January 14, 2013

HYCC Sea Creatures in Boston's First Night Parade

Sea Creatures were the theme of Hawthorne Youth and Community
Center's contribution to Boston's First Night Parade this year.
Louie the Lobster (seen above) was our focal creature.  As for the
past few years, artist  Lisa Lee and I collaborated to facilitate
HYCC's  First Night Project funded through First 

We worked with HYCC's  after school program as well as led
Saturday workshops  including teens and adults. It's always a real
community effort to get everything finished and ready to parade.

Inspired by the organic crocheting structures of
Virginia Fitzgerald, I started working with the after school
kids ( age 5-11) teaching them to crochet in the early Fall
and was pleased to see all of them enjoy the process.(It's
rewarding to see a super active 9 year old go over to
his cubby and pull out his crochet hook and yarn on
his own. )  Thanks to a donation from Susan Thompson
of some of the yarn she received when weaver Theresa-India
Young  died, we had plenty of varied yarns and textures to
work with.  I think Theresa-India would have been pleased
with the use. Susan was happy to share and pass them on.
Everyone  loved making long chains.
Gradually a sea fantasy emerged with crocheted "seaweed",
fish, some jelly fish (made from shower curtain material)
strings of lights and more...all hanging from a hula
hoop. This is what the finished fantasia looked like in
the parade:

The children also each made individual fish or other creatures
to carry....made from a variety of materials....with of course
 glitter and paint. Large trash bags make great smocks. 

But as I said, our focal piece this year was Louie the Lobster.
Lisa Lee was the chief armature maker using chicken wire and
aluminum screen.  Made in two parts it grew and grew....In
the end Louie was a little over 10 feet long. The screening
was stitched with wire onto the chicken wire with inner
strong circular wire supporting it. 

Once the basic structure was set, it was time for glue and glitter:
Lisa mentioned our plans to the guys working on her apartment.  
They offered to construct a float with wheels to support Louie.  
A cooperative spirit is alive and well in our neighborhood.
We gave them specs and they were off to get materials.
Once constructed, the wooden frame was turned into
"water" for Louie:

and more detail was added. Louie wasn't bothered by
the hungry shark below.
Finally Louie was ready to move to the Hines auditorium
where the float assembly was completed
And last touches were added.
Louie's eyes are flashlights.  Blinking holiday lights had been
strung through Louie's body and claws at HYCC.  "Seaweed"
raffia was added,a few octopi, a bubble machine in the front
and a chair secured on the base so Sam Sadd, HYCC's coordinator
could ride and pass out Mardi Gras beads from boxes under Louie.
Finally Louie was ready to move outside:
Families and friends arrived, picked up their fish or other
creatures, and we went into the night to march with others.

There were over 40 of us behind the HYCC banner.
Walking in the parade is a long standing neighborhood
tradition, connecting  us to each other and to Boston at large.
Kids and adults have fun wishing everyone Happy New Year
while passing out beads and looking at all the other community
groups' parade items and costumes.  This year the Hot Tamale
Brass Band was behind us...great help to keep up our energy.

At the end we gathered to celebrate another successful
event. Then watched the family fireworks display!
Next year, Lisa thinks we should make something even bigger
for the parade.  Stay tuned for that! We're going to have to
work on HYCC's expansion plans.

Meantime, we're looking for a place to display Louie
for a while.

  Happy 2013 everyone...may it be a year filled with communities
working together!     Wendy

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic post about all the work you all are doing! Just fantastic. Kids crocheting, artists teachign and leading, carpenters/neighbors pithcing in. Wow. I've always said we are only balanced in life when we do something from our hearts, head and hands.
    As for displaying - I've emailed this post to Ann Feinman at Boston Society of Architects. When I was on the Boston Foundation of Architecture board - they mentioned they'd have gallery space in the new building.
    You might also see if Madison Park would allow the creature to be displayed in window where the ArtRox sale was held. I'm not sure if any of the display cases at Dudley Library would be big enough but perhaps there's space at Grove Hall Library. Great work!