Steady rain and dropping temperatures at noon weren't enough to dampen spirits at Sunday's West Side Market Parade...although they did manage to close down much of the street fair until later in the day, when the showers finally abated. In the spirit of gonzo journalism, we embedded ourselves deep into the action, marching in the parade with Cleveland food writer Marilou Susko and her group of babushka-clad "shoppers," in a place of honor right behind the market vendors.
Susko, who has co-authored a soon-to-debut history of the West Side Market with fellow food writer Laura Taxel, says the idea of adding a crew of marching babas to the parade originally started as a joke made during a planning session. "But everyone loved the idea," she said from beneath her own colorful headgear. "And here we are."
The entire parade included an estimated 500 marchers, including bands, stilt walkers, troupes of ethnic dancers, representatives of the Metroparks, and oversized puppets from the Cleveland Museum of Art. About 25 of us were part of the babushka brigade, bearing shopping bags and dragging rolling carts filled with rubber chickens, fake pierogi, and ersatz produce.
God knows, we weren't pretty. But as the crowd of onlookers cheered, we made a splash along Lorain Ave. in our sensible shoes, rolled nylons, and shapeless sweaters. (Even Mayor Frank Jackson came out to take a gander.) Here are a few photos.