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Puppet Parade, Hillsborough, NC

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold

Puppet Parade, Hillsborough, NC

Giant puppets are animated with large sticks.

Picture giant handmade puppets, rollicking ragtime bands, performers on stilts, dancing troupes, and hundreds of children and adults marching through the streets of a small North Carolina town celebrating the diversity of their community.  In October 2010, when we were in North Carolina visiting family, we went to the handmade puppet parade to watch our granddaughter’s Girl Scout troop carry their giant caterpillar “puppet” through the streets of Hillsborough, a historic town not far from where they live in Chapel Hill.

Puppet Parade, Hillsborough, NC

Caterpillar created by the Girl Scouts

  The girls had spent weeks assembling their caterpillar with cloth, paint, and hula hoops.  It resembled a giant Chinese New Year dragon and required several girls to carry it.  The girls took turns and we followed along, marveling at the ingenuity of the “puppets” which, in some cases, towered over our heads and required teams to adults to move them along and to operate their limbs and other moving parts with long sticks.  The theme was wildlife found along the Eno River, which runs through the town.  We saw various bird puppets, including a great blue heron, a woodpecker and an egret, a giant decorative snake created by a local school class, bugs of all sorts, and some imaginative creatures.  It was a perfect fall day and a wonderful low-key entertainment.  While many spectators lining the parade route were friends and relatives of the participants, it was truly an event that anyone could enjoy.

Puppet Parade, Hillsborough, NC

Everyone who participates in the parade must wear a costume!

The Hillsborough Handmade Parade was conceived in 2007 as an annual community participation celebration by Mark Donley and Tinka Jordy. In the spring of 2008 a series of workshops both public and private were initiated that led to the First Annual Handmade Parade in October 2008.  Parades were also held in 2009 and 2010.  The next parade will be in 2012.  Check the Arts Council website for the date and details on how to register and participate. 

Puppet Parade, Hillsborough, NC

This large puppet reverses to have a smiling face and yellow costume on the other side.

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