was it the best one ever? it might have been the best one ever.

december 9, 2017. our SEVENTH time together at liberty lands. (it always takes me about a month to get a blog post done after Parade.)

what had started out as a predicted light dusting of snow was more of a steady fall, but the roads stayed clear. the park looked gorgeous.

at the end of last season we knew that we wanted to make a baba yaga hut for 2017, and we accomplished it! our friend bebe was a beautiful (actually, very glamorous and youthful) baba yaga, and her son hank was the dog guarding the hut. baba had some freaky gifts to hand out to kids — scary fingers, eyeball rings — and she also sat in her hut and played the mandolin as well.

(i had ordered special lights to that the skulls atop the hut could also be illuminated and this did not happen and you will hear me mentioning this here and there for the next three to four decades probably)

it might have been missed, but there was a ceremonial burning of a green man made by janet:


and rob (ewicher yeeger) gave his always-anticipated Invocation from the stage this year — which we now find is a better way to do that (it took us five years to get high-tech enough to get a battery-powered bullhorn, which i dropped in the snow while trying to hand it to rob; all the batteries fell out, everything now full of snow. but there was already a vocal mike on the stage. we have evolved JUST enough to make things easier.)

as is often the case, procession itself is a blur for me; i’m always concerned that our little es meedli is doing ok, and always trying to make sure of where my children are. i was grateful to tucker for bringing the frame drum that arun had painted for us (the drum was one given to me by tucker for mother’s day one year). as usual, there were so many amazing costumes and every time i saw one i wanted to sit and talk to that person for an hour… but of course that is never possible.

our brand new das mädchen and es meedli did very well. those are tiring jobs. that’s why the get medals.

david was a great das mädchen and here he is getting his official medal (made my artist chris carson, who made both das mädchen and es meedli), from ben:


and here’s sylvia’s portrait by neil kohl:

Parade of Spirits 2017

this year claudia and béla had larger roles in lux arati’s production, and lux arati’s production was larger than ever. i mean… HELLMOUTH large.

claudia has always been hesitant to use fire and the fact that she held a torch while reciting this incantation that she wrote — in latin and in english — was a big step forward for her.

and, clearly, béla remains comfortable with fire.

i’m rarely the person who gets very good photos… of anything… but these photos of patrice as frau perchta are from my phone and are pretty amazing.


tucker and i went with our standard cailleach and perchta looks (even though this is only my second year in my “newest” perchta mask, that mask is by FAR my favorite.) i did not have fenstad the eviscerated child handpuppet with me this year, but tuck made me a drop spindle lantern.


ben, béla, and claudia, had new looks — the guys in new krampus outfits (with new ghilie suits — teaching us that every thread on a ghilie suit will wick snow up your leg, making you much colder and wetter than you expect), and ben in a mask made by tucker out of cherry wood veneer. truly astounding. béla’s unusual coppery geometric “horns” were also made by tuck.

i am very proud of — although i can’t say i got a PERFECT photo of it — claudia’s headpiece. claudia was an amethyst geode. not that it has anything to do with winter, specifically… but… it wasn’t as though she DIDN’T fit in, and she WAS truly amazing. i had only a little help from tucker to get this started, and did the rest of it myself, and you really do have to see it in person to get the full effect. it’s wonderful.

this was the first year in many that we did not have a food truck and virtually no one noticed. (i think people like to just get inside to a restaurant for their meal, the harsher these winters are.) the guerilla ultima truck was the only food truck that ever really “got” us, though the others were good, they seemed a little forlorn and confused, and now that robert and mercedes have opened their brick and mortar cantina ultima in delaware, we are just okay without a food truck. that makes what happens in the park during parade a 100% gift economy. this year there were not even any attempts at etsy-type krampus-trinket vending (which we have seen a bit of in the past). all of this is a good direction in which to move.

on the way to gravy studios to get our annual large-format polaroid portrait by neil kohl, i slipped and went down just like a cartoon, flat on my back. at some point, i also lost my glasses. it was all worth it. (although in this photo i can still see claudia is feeling some distress about both my fall and the missing glasses — she is one to worry about her mom).


others who got photos by neil this year have been equally pleased, naturally.


our friends from pittsburgh came again this year and wowed everyone.


…and we got to have breakfast at the oregon diner with them the next morning, where they were able to pillage some of the extras from baba yaga’s gift basket.


this blog post can’t possibly cover, photographically, everything that happened or existed. i am grateful for all the photos and special thanks to asha, deanna, probably addie, and cory, who’s phones i think provided a number of the pics in this post (friends began texting me photos before we were even home, some of them just what they were seeing on social media.) photo-gathering was much more relaxed this year and that took a big part of the post-parade “work” off of me. i know all of neil’s photos will be gathered onto his flickr set (he also did a lot of documentary photography in the park, as well as the polaroids in the studio), and rich wexler of new castro camera had come straight from shooting two School of Rock shows to Parade to shoot 3D pictures, some of which we have already made into 3D view-master-style discs for viewing. (these will be available for purchase for anyone who asks).

we have already begun planning for next year with some excitement. some excitement is about using something that has been yet underused (we NEVER got so much as a complete photo of the Rook costume made in 2016, and it did not even come out this year — tucker has decided he wants to give it more its due in 2018).

and we have new things in the works as well. we are planning a community shadow puppet theatre in the park for 2018 and already have an active facebook group with lots of ingenuity for a project that has got comfortably low monetary overhead. feel free to join the parade of spirits shadow theatre group if you want to be part of help or contribute! (which may be two different things in some cases, the same in others.)

i am so grateful to Penn Treaty Special Services District for their support to Parade of Spirits, Liberty Lands every year. i am grateful to our energetic, detail-oriented, and active team of safeties and crossing guards. i am thankful to janet and jon and linda and jen and everyone who helps make the park ready for this event. i am thankful for lux arati who always treat this event as something really special and an opportunity to bring their A-game and to try out new things (like tossing entrails around the stage!) i am grateful to rob schreiwer and the heathen contingent of our event for the depth of feeling and willingness to help setup/break down that they always provide. i am grateful to the total strangers who posted about Parade weeks before it happened, encouraging their friends to come to something really special and magical. i am grateful to cory hutchenson who is writing his PhD dissertation about Parade (and for whose data there is a very informal — VERY — potluck dinner at our house on february 3d. request an invite here).

i’m really delighted with how things went this year and the beautiful new things that were made, and skills acquired. making the things we do for Parade a bigger part of the kids’ homeschool experience — and seeing SO much participation come in from the homeschool community — has me really excited about 2018.

(and i don’t know how i’m going to top the elizabethan embroidery of this year’s poster… but i’m sure somebody else will.)