within the last hour or so before leaving our house for the first krampsulauf philadelphia in 2011 — really, the moment in my life when i was least sure of what i was getting into ever — i received a message of goodwill and congratulations from a man named jhon. he was a stranger to me, from an organization called many mouths one stomach.
MMOS is a non-profit which promotes “festal culture”. i had never heard those words used together until jhon had approached me on facebook. i discovered he was also very involved with the all souls procession weekend in tucson, arizona, and his own more intimate processional winter project, LumiNight.
over the years, as krampuslauf philadelphia grew, and became sometimes scary, or lackluster, or irritating, or any of the things it can be in my mind the other 364 days of the year, jhon was there for me. he has always been there for me.
in 2014, tuscon artist mykl wells flew to philly, and we showed him a good time. and he showed us a good time. mykl was also deeply involved with all souls procession weekend, and running its workshops, and we learned a lot from him.
tuscon had, frankly, been very good to krampuslauf philadelphia. and it was time to return the favor.
early in november of 2015, we — me, ben, tucker, béla and claude, and also linda and ruby — few to tuscon to see how they do it there. it was the right year to go. the theme of the procession’s finale this year was “unmournable bodies”. this was meaningful to both tucker and to me, who have difficult deaths and impending deaths, of difficult people, to process in our lives. tucker chose to make a lantern and burn it in the urn at the end of the procession — i had a hard time choosing how to express my desire for closure, and claudia helped me, by wearing my mother’s wedding dress as part of her costume for the procession.
it was wonderful to meet jhon for the first time and take part in his portion of the weekend, the procession of little angels. this is a children’s procession for which the kids made wings beforehand, and processed through a park lined with altars — many of them honoring lost children.
AFTER the procession of little angels — yes, the same night — we went to a music festival where the headlining band was of Montréal. if you know ANYTHING about our family you know how we feel about of Montréal! it was the first time our kids got to see them live, and this amazing bouncer got us front and center so the kids could be RIGHT up in kevin barnes’ eyeglitter. it was fabulous!
we had personal reasons for attending this event this year. but always, where krampuslauf philadelphia is concerned, we take participation in the events that drive others’ hearts and creativity very seriously. we take giving back very seriously — even if it is only with our presence. we try to be the people we want to SEE at krampuslauf philadelphia. WE want to be responsible for our own fun, and some of someone else’s. we want to help make it happen. we want to connect. NOT just for our own little event under our own little name. to meet face to face with people we’ve only known as “facebook friends”. to see landscapes that are new to us. (claudia, walking to procession: “those are NOT MOUNTAINS. THAT’S JUST A BACKDROP.” sorry honey, those are actual mountains.)
this is what i love about festal culture and processional arts. you throw yourself in, and then it disbands almost before you know what has happened. you have connected so deeply and experienced so much and placed so much trust in the people who surround you… many of whom would be unrecognizable out of that context, without their makeup or masks. and yet, it creates relationships that last.
no one wanted to give up their wings, so on the morning we left tuscon, jhon had breakfast with us and accompanied us to the post office, where we mailed the wings to ourselves. they have arrived home to us in philadelphia safe and sound.