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The Unstoppable DIY New Years Eve Parade
by DIY Paraders
Tuesday Dec 21st, 2010 1:35 PM
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 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.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Walking on Pacific
Tuesday Dec 21st, 2010 4:02 PM
Last Night started in 2005 as a response to the implosion of the city-sponsored First Night celebration. That year, thousands of people came out to participate in the people’s parade that marched raucously up Pacific Avenue.
by Bob Lamonika (posted by Norse)
Saturday Dec 25th, 2010 9:13 PM
On Sunday December 5th, the Santa Cruz Sentinel published this op-ed piece by community activist Bob Lamonika. Unfortunately it's not been saved in the Sentinel's database, or, at least, I haven't been able to find it. Bob Lamonika e-mailed it to me at my request so I could make it available here on indybay.


The claim is made that celebrating Halloween in Santa Cruz on Pacific Avenue is not an organized special event. Some 25,000 people show up without any particular organizer, with no organized schedule and no organized parade path for shutting down streets. However, the city does shut down streets for Halloween, and police don't force people off the streets and don't force anyone to get a permit.

A comparison can be made between Halloween and New Year's Eve on Pacific Avenue that indicates a tradition of nonpermitted street closures. It is logical that a New Year's Eve celebration on Pacific Avenue warrants similar street closure accommodation.

The Halloween street closure accommodation did not happen immediately; it happened after a communitywide realization that it would be the best alternative. It may be called "spontaneous" now, but that wasn't so initially. The Halloween celebration on Pacific Avenue was promoted, at first by subterfuge many years ago, into the mainstream.

Let's be honest here and admit that it started out with subterfuge, with people passing notes, calling each other, "Let's go to Pacific Avenue for Halloween," just like New Years Eve is now. Halloween became spontaneous when it was accommodated with a street closure. To call Halloween spontaneous and not acknowledge that New Year's Eve would be equally spontaneous when accommodated by a street closure is disingenuous.

Halloween draws people from all over the Bay Area and beyond. In all likelihood, when New Year's Eve is given the same street closure status as Halloween, it will be more popular than Halloween, and more economically positive for downtown businesses. Revenue and positive publicity generated by a New Year's Eve street closure could arguably offset the costs incurred.

There has been for decades an accommodated gathering at the Town Clock. It is a cultural tradition to gather in public spaces on this particular day, of all days. Citizens so desire some kind of "spontaneous" gathering to commemorate the passing of the year. Consider the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration in New York City. New Year's Eve in Times Square is not some permitted affair. Long ago, it became appropriate to let it be, and provide accommodation rather than arrest massive numbers of participants.

Similar to Halloween, New Year's Eve on Pacific Avenue would be more intensely regulated, with triple fine zones and other measures, emphatically placing constraints on the range of acceptable behavior. lf there is an issue with someone's behavior, the city has more than enough legal means to address it. With the Santa Cruz Police Department supervising, they'll be seconds away on foot. Why wouldn't Santa Cruz, from a purely practical business perspective, want to encourage this to happen in a structured way that helps everybody?

The attempt to crush a citizen celebration on Pacific Avenue on New Year's Eve is wrong. The reality is that we accommodate Pacific Avenue with a street closure for Halloween. Quite logically, we should accommodate Pacific Avenue with a street closure for New Year's Eve. Not a "permitted" street closure, but Halloween parallel treatment.

The city and police need to do what's necessary to accommodate human beings on Pacific Avenue on New Year's Eve. To all who value civil rights, stand up for street closure accommodation NewYear's Eve on Pacific Avenue.

Bob Lamonica is a longtime Santa Cruz resident. He is self-employed in technology marketing communications.
by Bob Lamomica
Saturday Dec 25th, 2010 10:06 PM
Wes Modes was nailed, nobody else was. A plea before a Judge. "Participant." This cannot slip into oblivion. Please, no. It's too gross.

It does not matter what you think of Wes Modes, of me, Robert Norse, Batman, Jesus, etc. Please.

What is the truth here, the CIVIL RIGHTS principle? STAND UP. DO IT NOW. Why not? WTF?

Seee you. All the best. Happy Holiidays. Elizabeth Burchfield, exist.
by Auntie Imperial
Friday Dec 31st, 2010 5:48 PM

When: 12/31/10 1704pm pst

Where: Corner of Pacific & Walnut @ the side of Super Silver.

What: No parade yet... The police show up in car #131 and park on Walnut next to the old Woolworths.

An approximately 30yr old woman with two children, ages guessed at 7/8...10 stops the officers at the P&W corner and asks "Where's the parade?". One of the officers says: "[unintelligible] It's not sanctioned by the city you know."

I step closer to the curb on the other side of the street and appear to be obviously listening

The officer begins to say:

"We're hoping...."

...then notices me watching and just cuts off the conversation with the woman (probably saying '...that's all I can say' but it was unintelligible) and walks away with the other officer.

My point being (yes I do have a point...) if the average citizens of Santa Cruz WERE NOT dissuaded, in so many ways overt (news of massive police presence) and covert (the subterfuge in the officer's direct dissuasion leading the woman to think it was unsanctioned, therefore unsafe for her children) from attending the DIY parade, there WOULD BE NO REASON FOR THE BELIEF THERE WOULD BE "ANARCHIST TROUBLE" AND THE CONCURRENT MASSIVE POLICE PRESENCE AND SURVEILLANCE PROMISED.

The city and the SCPD are perpetuating their OWN 'problem' on New Years Eve 2010 by continuing to cause, by the above-stated methods, a... (how can I put this politely?) A SOCIOLOGICALLY unbalanced cohort of individuals attending the DIY parade similar to what happens when the police anywhere tout a massive police presence complete with organizer targeting squads, leaving only the people 'looking for action' interested in attending.

It SURE DOES help pad the SCPD's intel budget though, and they are, indeed, the ONLY WINNERS from their 'activity suppression' actions.

Certainly the citizens of Santa Cruz gain nothing from it.

I just hope the woman was not dissuaded, and DID notice her walk South on Pacific, where she and her children will hopefully run into that "Funny Freak Parade" (Ultimate Spinach, 1967) they were looking for

Yours truly,
Auntie Imp
by A
Saturday Jan 1st, 2011 12:21 AM
Couldn't agree with you more, well said. Thanks for the early written report. Those who cant make it like me appreciate it.