Phenomenal Parade

A poetic, participatory and community-based parade on the streets of Mile End

Extravagant, community-based and non-commercial, the Phenomenal Parade is a biannual event, as well as a public and artistic occupation of public space. The Parade’s goal is to offer a grand, creative, colorful and vibrant event to the public — one that is inclusive and open to the participation of all.

The Phenomenal Parade had its first edition on October 8th 2017, as a part of the 375 Viaduc project. A parade composed of 300 people walked in total euphoria across the Van Horne Viaduc (where one lane was blocked from traffic) from Saint-Denis street all the way to Saint-Urbain. Citizens, parents, children, young professionals and seniors — all dressed up in homemade costumes, and accompanied by street artists, rollerblading brides and The Van Hornies marching brass band — paraded along the street under the amazed gaze of 800 spectators of all ages gathered on the Viaduc.

The parade was comprised of five thematic blocks divided by colors and themes:

  • Flowers and candy (hues of pink and red)
  • Deep sea spirit: sea creatures, aquatic flora, mermaids, etc. (hues of blue)
  • Ancient Egypt’s Pharaohs, bling bling and golden glamour (hues of yellow and gold)
  • Forest spirit: foliage, fur and animals (hues of green)
  • Wedding dresses and white attire (white)

The parade wrapped up with a family event at the Parc Sans Nom, which included the young musicians of L’Enfant Fort and the Carmagnole Fanfare, followed by a fabulous fire act created by Izza Flambe and the Beaux-Morts-du-Fjord of the AbracadaBOOM Cirkus.

Phenomena Festival partnered up with Patsy Van Roost, the Urban Fairy, to mobilize residents of neighboring streets. We sent out invitations to neighborhood residents’ letterboxes, encouraging them to create their costume according to the theme assigned to their respective street. Neighbors, families and friends shared a moment of pride and folly. The Santisouk Housing Co-op, home to four-generations of families of Lao origin, took part in one of our theme blocks with much enthusiasm.

Both participants and onlookers appreciated the parade’s innovative and participatory approach, one that shines a light on the magical and poetic aspects of the location itself. We might be so bold as to say that the Phenomenal Parade entered the neighborhood’s collective imaginary. The public’s enthusiasm indicated the extent to which people recognize the quality of a poetic event that not only provokes awe, but also creates connections between people and opens up the public’s imagination.

The 2017 Phenomenal Parade was made possible with the support and partnership of Bell Canada, the Foundation of Greater Montréal, l’arrondissement du Plateau-Mont-Royal, and the Caisse Desjardins des Versants du mont Royal.