By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
— If you don’t think Le Center is a backward community, check out a downtown alley on April 1.
That’s when a passel of citizens will conduct shenanigans that only play out every 11 years. No more, no less.
Fools in the Alley is a combo platter of wacky homage to All Fools’ Day, a flip-off to winter, and an excuse to combine assorted libations with downtown commerce.
Think stores with crazy days-like sales.
And will the bars be involved?
“All four of them,” Fools co-disorganizer Gary Huber says resolutely.
The event will be lowlighted by two parades — a kiddie one at 5:30 p.m. and one for adult kiddies at 6:13 p.m.
Why 6:13? Because it’s 2013. (The 2002 parade commenced at 6:02)
The parade units will line up and proceed down a two-block stretch of alley just off the main drag. The units will proceed forward by going backward. That’s the bit.
And here’s the back story:
Fools in the Alley was started in 1991 by attorney Harry Christian and the now-late Lenny Factor.
As Harry tells it, he and Lenny were in the throes of deep sacrifice, having sworn off booze during Lent.
The proper balm for these self-inflicted wounds, they agreed, called for some sort of celebration. Perhaps a fete in the street.
Better yet, an ado in an alley.
For the specifics, Harry drew upon something he once read about. It had to do with a remote Alaskan fishing village where bored locals paraded backward as a tonic for the dog days of winter.
Christian spread word that something similar would take place in Le Center on the evening of All Fools’ Day. He trumpeted that there would be musicians playing (“Some good, some bad. Mostly bad.”) and other people displaying talents they didn’t have.
The parade that year included a tractor-drawn farm wagon moving backward down that alley and marchers wearing their clothes likewise.
Thus, a tradition was born.
But why just once every 11 years? Blame it on the quirks of the calendar.
It seems that All Fools’ Day only occurs after Easter Sunday every 11 years, and Christian, being a good Christian, said it wouldn’t be, uh, kosher to engage in post-Lent partying preceding that holy Sabbath.
So, bottoms up, boys. Or, backwardly speaking, up bottoms.
Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.