MayDay in Minneapolis

hotb mayday celebration

The 39th Annual MayDay Festival and Ceremony is this Sunday, May 5 and you should really think about going. In the Heart of the Beast Theater (HOTB) has been producing this event since 1975, and it is a community celebration that thousands of people look forward to each year.

For the uninitiated, HOTB is a great puppet theater with a mission to “bring people together for the common good through the power of puppet and mask performance.” One of the many ways they do this is by producing the annual MayDay Festival.

The MayDay event, taking place in South Minneapolis, consists of three parts: the Parade, the Ceremony and the Festival.

hotb puppetsThe MayDay Parade tells a story through amazing handmade puppets and masks, music and dance. As the performers march down Bloomington Avenue, each section of the story is told by MayDay staff artists as a walking theatrical performance. This year’s story is inspired by a cantastoria called Hallelujah, created by The Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont. It’s a story that talks about how our actions affect our world – if we care for the world, let the sun shine on it and water it, then the crops will grow, and so will the children. If, however, we don’t care for the world and set fire to it, then nothing can survive. A simple yet powerful story with a simple yet powerful message.

Thousands of people line the streets to watch the parade, which begins at 1:00 pm. It starts at 25th St. E. and Bloomington Ave. S. hotb parade routeand travels south on Bloomington Ave. to 34th St. E. There, it turns west toward Powderhorn Park, where the parade ends, and the MayDay Ceremony and Festival begin, at approximately 3:00 pm.

The Tree of Life Ceremony, begins at the Parade’s end, and is an annual ritual for thousands of people in the Twin Cities. And it wouldn’t be possible without the participation of 200 – 300 adults and children dancers and puppeteers, a live orchestra and four giant yet serene puppets who represent the Prairie, Sky, River, and Woods. To the steady beat of a drum, a resplendent red Sun Flotilla paddles the Sun from across the lake to the shore where the Tree of Life sleeps, waiting to be reawakened. It truly is a beautiful thing and very representative of how many of us feel at this time of year (and especially this year).

The Festival follows the Parade and Ceremony and is rife with music, dancing, poetry, and spoken word, which you will find on four stages set up throughout the park. You also will find food, laughter yoga, drum circles, canoe rides and more music and dancing all around the park (for an entertainment schedule, click here). It is a very festive place.

There is no cost to attend any of the MayDay festivities, although a donation is really appreciated. In the Heart of the Beast Theater gladly puts on this event each year, but less than half of the production cost is covered by fees, ad sales and grants. That’s why you’ll see people walking around with Donation Buckets. You can donate there, or at any T-shirt or HOTB information booth.

For more information on In the Heart of the Beast Theater, please visit their website. And consider coming out to the MayDay celebration on Sunday. If you go, let us know; we love hearing from our readers.

hotb mayday ceremony 

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