The warm and somewhat pleasant weather has finally made its presence known in Syracuse. And what better way to celebrate this blessing, not to mention the city, than an art float parade down Onondaga Creek? Art isn’t usually the first item thought of as floating on the creek, but with this new public art initiative, it eventually could be.
Participants are invited to the Rescue Mission parking lot, 120 Gifford St., at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, to drop off art to parade down the creek. Spectators can join in an hour later, along the creek as it runs between Armory Square and Franklin Square, to watch said creative procession.
“It’s a celebration of the creek, which seems like a great part of Syracuse, a great aspect,” said Meghan Holtan, the event’s organizer. “It’s going to be a parade of art floats that are mostly attached or strapped to old inner tubes. There’s also going to be a handful of musicians in canoes, and kayakers from the Onondaga Nation coming down to do some songs on the water.”
The Creek Float Art Parade has been organized by the Public Arts Task Force (PATF), an organization in Syracuse with an aim to create and cultivate a culture of public art, and Creek Rats. The PATF has been responsible for past events such as the Salt City Dishes dinners, Lipe Art Park and the Salt City Urban Art & Craft Market. The Creek Rats hold a meeting to discuss ideas on every first Thursday of the month at the Everson Museum of Art, 401 Harrison St.
Creek Rats, in its 10th year in Syracuse, carries as its mission revitalizing the environment through the creation of limited-use recreation and greenspace areas, meaning they work on restoring areas and then returning them as places for the public to appreciate nature and community parks. Together with these local organizations, Holtan has a mission to beautify Onondaga Creek.
So where did this parade idea come from?
“I just moved to Syracuse this fall and was walking past the creek, and was like, ‘Man this is awesome, because the creek goes right through Syracuse,’” Holtan explained. “And then I was like, ‘This creek needs a parade on it!” From that point, Holtan brought her idea to the monthly meeting of the PATF, and the idea was afloat.
Syracuse sees its share of parades annually—St. Patrick’s, the Pride Parade and Festival, even a Parade of Homes—but this is definitely a new one. “You talk to a lot of people and they’re like, ‘Floats on the creek?’” Holtan said with a laugh. But art on water has seen success before. “It’s not a novel idea. I’ve seen some in Chicago. They have a similar theater-on-the-water type of event.”
The Creek Float Art Parade will boast at least seven floats, ranging from animals to children’s toys. “Well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise,” Holtan said. “But some stuff is more realistic and some stuff is more surrealistic.” Parade organizers held float construction sessions at Craft Chemistry, 745 N. Salina St. on April 14 and 20. Check out some pictures from the event, including some float previews, on their Facebook page, found by searching “Creek Float! (Art Parade on Onondaga Creek).”
And for those who didn’t make it to the construction session, the float supplies haven’t run dry yet. “I actually still have leftover inner tubes. They’re all at Craft Chemistry, and it’s free!” Holtan said. “Pick it up, decorate it, and show up Saturday at 1 p.m.”
If you have any questions about getting involved, contact Holtan at mtholtan@yahoo. com.