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About Last Night Again

About Last Night Again

This New Year's Eve at sunset, a parade of giant puppets, decorated bicyclists, stilt walkers and activists will march through the downtown mall stopping traffic--despite the fact that organizers have no event permit. This will be the inaugural Last Night DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Parade, combining two of the most popular pastimes in Santa Cruz: dressing in costume and resisting authority.

At the most recent planning meeting, Santa Cruzans discussed the logistics and goals of the event. Some participants wanted more whimsy in the community. Ultimately, organizers hope to create a child-friendly New Year's alternative to drinking bubbly at local bars.

The absence of a permit is partly due to the fact that special event permits cost a bundle. Yet without a permit, aspects of the parade will undoubtedly be tricky, such as having fire dancers and deflecting traffic by forming a protective ring of bicyclists around the marchers.

Rico Thunder, who helped host the meeting, said, "I'm reasonably confident that the police will find it's good even though it's outside of their official control. It's an opportunity to have the citizens of their own community doing their own thing."

However, Lt. Rudy Escalante, who patrols downtown, stressed that event permits are designed to ensure public safety and protect local businesses.

"We address those situations as they come up, and we have an open dialogue with those people," Escalante said. "But unfortunately [the paraders] have not contacted us yet."

Although paraders want a child-friendly environment, after discussing outreach the meeting shifted to preparations for police resistance--like avoiding police blockades and designating people as police liaisons or "cop-tamers," who will engage disgruntled officers in discussion while the festivities continue.

"If there are helicopters, then we run," said Jennifer Buschard, another organizer at the meeting.

"Well, you can't make that choice for everybody," Rico Thunder replied.

Hopefully it won't come to that, since stilt walkers and giant puppets would have a hard time running from the choppers.

For more information, check out, or show up in your New Year's best at 5pm, New Year's Eve, in the parking lot outside the Saturn Café.

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