Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts 2013 Date and Theme Announced

Attention creative types of the Valley: If you happen to have a project brewing that's of a particularly interesting, unusual, or exotic nature that's gonna be finished in the next six weeks or so, then Sahar Afi Mitchell and Stephen Strage want to hear about it. And possibly showcase it at the Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts.

The couple, who star in Strange Family Circus sideshow troupe and have organized the wildly vibrant downtown Phoenix-based procession and cavalcade, recently announced this year's version will happen on Saturday, November 9, and boast the theme "Weird, Wild West." And they're hoping that all sorts of participants and artsy endeavors get involved.

See also: The People of the Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts: 11 Animated GIFs

Mitchell says that includes more than just participants for the parade portion of PAPA, which has previously featured a variety of art cars, modified or decorated bicycles, unique DIY floats, mobile installations, huge papier-mâché creations, and many people in costume.

Since its founding in 2006, the event has always had a festival component that's served as the starting and ending point for the two- to three-mile procession (which traipses around parts of downtown) and featured vendors, art displays, and food trucks, as well as a stage manned by bands, dance troupes, and performance artists. Like with the past few PAPA's, this year's event will be based around the Downtown A.R.T.S. Market along Roosevelt Row, which will be the departure/arrival point and epicenter of everything else.

Mitchell says they're eager to include as wide a variety of art works as possible in both the parade and festival portions of PAPA 2013.

"It gives you a chance to let people know what you've been doing lately. If it's a giant advertisement for whatever art project you're working on or whatever costume you spent a lot of time making for Halloween but don't want to wear just once," she says. "We want the to people to be able to proudly show off the things they've created."

Mitchell says they also hope to potentially offer workshops and other participatory aspects at PAPA this year.

"We're trying to get the community involved with doing more than just the parade and want to open it up to be more of a collaborative event," she says. " So we are already asking members of the community to spearhead their own areas. Like juggler Chase Archer is putting together juggling workshops instead of having performing juggling. Basically, we're sort of reaching out to people to see what they would like to happen."

Anyone interested in potentially getting involved or providing ideas should e-mail her at sahar.mitchell@gmail.com.

 photo MOV01719_zps092db65e.gif An animated GIF of a juggler at PAPA 2012

And while PAPA's attendees usually include a great deal of the sort of, um...colorful individuals making up the crowd at an average First Friday, Mitchell says that its an "all-inclusive sort of thing" that's open to anyone and everyone, regardless of their age or social sphere, whether its suburban families, makers, ravers, or geeks.

"We love that it can bring together people from all these different local communities, which might be sort of insular in and of themselves but will get out of their comfort zone and bring their creativity with them," she says.

And Mitchell is hoping that PAPA's "Weird, Wild West" theme this year, which she says could potentially include everything from steampunk to Day of the Dead-style works and costumes, will help spark some of that creativity.

"We figured it would attract everyone, like cowboys, [people] who want dress up like mariachis to steampunks," Mitchell says. "It seemed like in previous years we'd gotten kinda complex with the themes. So we wanted one that is sort of easy to follow and is distinctly Arizona, but could also be something that people could easily throw together a costume for."

While she wants PAPA participants to be inspired by the theme, no one is beholden to it.

"It's always encouraged, but you don't have to have a costume or work that is part of the theme," she says. "We've had some amazing, amazing floats and costumes that weren't theme-related and we loved that. But if people just need a little bit of a boost as to how they could celebrate, the theme's there to help them out."

Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts 2013 will take place on Saturday, November 9, at the Downtown A.R.T.S. Market. Admission is free.

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