The OTHER Real Reason I Live in The Northwest: Renegade Marching Bands

I don’t know how this happened, but I’ve lived here in the Northwest an entire NINE, count ’em NINE, YEARS and I have never once been to Honkfest West. NEVER! I’d never even heard of the festival until a gracious co-worker who understands my penchant for public displays of absurdity told me about it. I don’t think I can adequately spell out my love for marching bands. Maybe it’s that Eastern European in me, but if you give me an open road, a drum, a horn and maybe a violin or two, I feel like I’ve come home. Add a whistle or ten or fifteen, multiply the drum factor by eleven, and throw in some striped stockings, bowler hats, and eye makeup, and you’ve got the makings for a perfect night as far as I am concerned. Lest you confuse the folks below for the buttoned up band folks leading the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade… let me warn you: these are not they. This is more like anarchist biker clique meets talented musician meets Grandma’s dress up trunk. I literally planned my whole weekend around this, it was that important to me. I just love the circus. I’m not even kidding. So, without further ado, I present to you, compliments of my phone camera with no flash, HONKFEST WEST!:


This blur is the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band. Well, part of it anyway. I couldn’t possibly take a picture of all of them because a) there seemed to be hundreds of them and b) they danced like maniacs. Quite possibly the most energetic band of the night. You might not be able to read it… but the inside of this man’s instrument says “This Bud’s For You”. He ran around carrying that thing like it weighed nothing. And when I say “ran”, I literally mean “ran”. He ran with that tuba. Do you know how in shape you have to be to run with a tuba? I’m out of breath running to the bus stop with a tuna fish sandwich in my hand, never mind 20 pounds of fluted pipe.


There they are. The Yellow Hat Band! Just one of many bands that we followed into dark alleys to hear what else they could play that would echo off the highway overpass.


Apparently, the man carrying around this obscene (and sexy) amount of bent brass is the man responsible for this whole hot mess. If he weren’t so busy cranking out the Klezmer tunes with the rest of his Fedora topped crew, I would have kissed him right on the mouth in gratitude.

That’s right. That’s a man in a carrot suit. Playing a saxophone. In a parking lot. You can’t see it in this picture, but there’s a stilt walker to his left. God bless the Northwest.