Q&A: Eli Eley of SoHud Fools Parade

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

For members of the SoHud neighborhood block watch, a little nonsense has come a long way.

In the name of community building and foolishness, the block watch group and neighborhood residents will throw the second annual SoHud Fools Parade and Festival of Hilaria on Saturday, April 11. The costume-encouraged walker/bicycle-centric parade will start off at the Dude Locker (527 E. Hudson St.) at 3 p.m. and will end with music, face painting, games and food at The Summit (2210 Summit St.). Drake Talbot, DJ George Brazil, Ginger Lees and several other acts will round out the night of foolishness for party-goers.

We were talking about throwing a block party; I thought, why not a parade? There are a few different origin stories about April Fools’ Day, but I heard on NPR that it originated from 16th century France. They had switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, which switched New Year’s from March to January. People on the outskirts didn’t hear about [the change] and continued celebrating New Year’s in March, so people in the city started calling them “the fools.” From there it evolved into a day of pranks. I thought that was pretty funny, and [the SoHud block watch] was talking about trying to do a block party anyway — but I thought putting on an April Fools’ parade would be fun. People were really receptive. We met every Sunday and planned for the spring. It was kind of nice to sit around and talk about nice weather. We went through the battery of finding out what permits we needed, and figured out what we needed to do.

The SoHud Fools Parade is totally DIY. We wanted it to be a family-friendly event where kids can have fun. It’s total nonsense so we thought it would be a great way to build community and meet more of our neighbors.We are all long-time residents of the SoHud neighborhood. I’ve lived there basically the entire time I’ve lived in Columbus. It’s a grass-roots neighborhood with a lot of interesting residents. It’s an older place that is accessible to every aspect of town. The coolest thing about the SoHud neighborhood is there are so many artists and musicians in our community. Many of the people in the neighborhood contribute to the other great festivals around town, so we thought we should have our own. Everybody knows people around town so last year we just used social media outlets and talked to people we knew to get them to participate. It was our community reaching out to the rest of the Columbus community. The feedback we got was that people had a great time and are looking forward to next year. Lots of people put in lots of time and money to make this happen.

It’s bizarre that it’s come together so well and has its own life. The committee of people is what made it possible. We feed off each other’s energy to get everything done. A few of the block watch members had been involved in a similar parade in Athens that has puppets as well, so they were really into it. I feel like I’m “in over my head” all the time. Balancing all the moving parts and logistics was difficult. I was leading the parade last year, but I walk way too fast. The parade definitely got stretched out, so I think somebody else will do it this year. But having everyone cheering us on along the way was really cool.

One of my favorite parts of the parade is the “Festival of Hilaria” at The Summit. Last year it was great talking to everyone who participated when the parade ended at The Summit. I built a carnival wheel with a wood clicker for prizes. We’ll have games, a photo booth and some food trucks along with music and karaoke. Hopefully after we get things rolling we can start giving back. Because we are so new, we are trying to make enough to cover the parade. There are lots of out-of-pocket expenses associated with putting on a parade, but once we get more established we hope we can start giving back. Right now we just want to make it happen.

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Age: 43

Hometown: Lima

Day job: School social worker

Current neighborhood: SoHud

Currently listening to: "My favorite Afro-beat compilation"

Playing favorites:

Favorite movie: "Barton Fink"

Favorite TV show: "Shameless"

Favorite restaurant: Local Cantina

Favorite cocktail/beverage: Watershed gin and tonic

Best way to spend $10 in Columbus: "Two pieces of pizza and a beer at Oddfellows Liquor Bar." 

What's your favorite way to waste time? "Patios in the spring."