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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

All-City People's Parade Joins Forces With Summer of Peace

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With a giant cardboard bullet on my head, I menaced citizens in 2009. The following year, I caused a giant puppet Mother Earth to rise up healed. Last year, I cavorted to Aztec music. Thus, my last three Labor Days were spent parading from the Downtown Boston Store to the Summerfest grounds in the All-City People's Parade, an extravaganza of community-inspired visual art, music and theater under the loving direction of Milwaukee Public Theatre and Milwaukee Mask & Puppet Theatre.

When this year's recall election put Laborfest's plans on hold, the All-City People's Parade decided to team with the 10th annual Summer of Peace Parade and Peace Rally to make one great cathartic community shout. Summer of Peace is a program for teens that teaches principles of nonviolence, racial justice and civic responsibility. Allied with the city's major youth agencies, the annual highlight is a parade through city neighborhoods ending with a rally that is both a memorial for Milwaukeeans who have died by violence and a celebration of nonviolence with entertainment by young performers.

On Friday, July 27, you can watch or join the mega-parade. Fittingly, there is a role for everyone. No rehearsal is required. Those who register at the Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club in Sherman Park at 9:30 a.m. that morning will enjoy a free lunch when the parade ends at the Washington Park Bandshell.

A series of loose music-theater performances with elaborate visuals, the All-City show is designed by community artists based on listening sessions sponsored by a score of civic organizations. The aim is to give a face to the hopes and fears of Milwaukeeans. Working with Summer of Peace, the organizers heard high-school students speak about a "school to prison pipeline"—kids expelled from class virtually straight into police custody—and fears about job prospects, climate change, bullying and feelings of isolation. The theme this year is "Finding Your Voice."

Among many imaginative floats, a miniature city will be pushed along on shopping carts. Each house will hold paper messages conveying dreams expressed in listening sessions, to be handed out en route.

The parade will leave Sherman Park at 10 a.m. and travel south on Sherman Boulevard to Washington Park for food, entertainment and anti-violence organizing until 6 p.m.
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