The Unstoppable DIY New Years Eve Parade
Despite City Efforts, Do-It-Yourself Community Celebration Set for New Years
On New Year's Eve, as it has for the past six years, Santa Cruz will again host the DIY New Years Parade, what has become both a homespun, family-friendly alternative celebration and a controversial embarrassment for the city. The result of six years of do-it-yourself community organizing, the Last Night DIY Parade, a community-sponsored New Year's Eve celebration will again hit Santa Cruz streets.
Every New Years since 2004, the DIY celebration has been peaceful, creative, and fun. Community members carefully handle organization, traffic control, and cleanup. However, because of its lack of official sanction, civic leaders have opposed the celebration from the beginning. This year, police tried to shut down the parade by selectively targeting individuals who participated. In spite of the DIY parade's spotless record, Police used the unrelated violence on May 1st, 2010 to argue that all unpermitted events were potentially dangerous.
"While the police and civic leaders try to frighten us with the specter of downtown violence, we just want to participate in a communal celebration with our neighbors," said Elizabeth Burchfield. "We are tired of being afraid. It's time to organize together."
In 2004, Santa Cruz police were discovered infiltrating the parade planning group. An outcry by community members with the help of the ACLU put in place rules to severely restrict local surveillance operations of community groups.
According to the Last Night DIY website, the parade, from its beginnings in 2004, was not about merely celebrating, "but celebrating what we as a community can do ourselves, without corporate or city-sponsorship. It is a celebration of both our autonomy and the support we offer each other."
As with other years, organization is spontaneous and open. There is no single group of organizers. "Everyone who participates makes it happen," said Burchfield.
This year on New Year's Eve, the DIY Parade will meet at 5pm near the Saturn Cafe parking lot on Pacific Ave and Spruce Street.