Clowns and basset hounds: Saturday is Ocean City’s Doo Dah Parade

    Tax season got you down? Need to see shaving cream pies flying through the air to lift your mood? Or have you always wanted to know what hundreds of costumed basset hounds walking down a boardwalk looked like? 

    You’re in luck. This Saturday is Ocean City’s 27th annual Doo Dah Parade, the showcase event of a weekend dedicated to the “celebration of humor,” says Mark Soifer, public relations director for Ocean City who came up with the idea for the parade 27 years ago (he’s also the brains behind some of Ocean City’s other wacky events, like Weird Week and an annual hermit crab beauty pageant).

    Soifer says he was inspired by the original Doo Dah parade, which takes place in Pasadena, Calif. When Pitman, N.J. suspended their Doo Dah event, he asked their organizers if Ocean City could take up the baton – which is why Pitman has a brigade in the parade every year. 

    The theme has always been humor since the parade is set for the Saturday after tax day (this year’s an exception since tax day was moved to April 17). The first year, relatives of great comedians like W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers and Jack Benny were invited as guests. 

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    “Then I thought, well, maybe we can jazz this up a little bit if we started to get some live people,” says Soifer.

    This year, the grand marshall is Chuck McCann, a comedian, ventriloquist, actor and former children’s show host. Past guests of honor have included Carol Channing, Mickey Rooney and Captain Noah. McCann will be accompanied by comedic impersonators and – what I think absolutely makes the parade – over 600 basset hounds.

    The dogs were added 10 years ago when the Tri State Basset Hound rescue approached Soifer about making their annual “boardwaddle” part of the Doo Dah Parade. This year, over 600 basset hounds (and a few other kinds of dogs too – my Jack Russell Terrier was part of the 2008 parade) will participate, dressed in costumes. Their entry fees raised over $60,000 for the Tri State Basset Hound rescue last year. 

    You can register your dog up to the morning of the parade – and he or she need not be a Basset Hound. Here are details if you want to join in.

    The parade starts at noon at 6th Street and Asbury Avenue, traveling to 12th Street, then turning onto the boardwalk and ending at the Music Pier, which is between 8th and 9th Streets on the Boardwalk. Make sure you stick around until after the awards are handed out. Then it’s time for “The Pieasco,” a shaving cream pie throwing event in honor of the late comedian Soupy Sales, a long time Doo Dah Parade attendee.

    If you’re in town today, head to the Tabernacle Grounds at 6th Street and Asbury Avenue at 1pm for the Basset Hound Olympics. The event is more in line with the comedy aspect of the weekend rather than showing off feats of dog strength. “They are supposed to jump over hurdles, but they usually walk around them,” says Soifer, or they walk through a tunnel and then flop down to take a nap.

    Also at 2pm today, Margie Ingram, co-director of the Humor Project, will be speaking at the library about how humor can help you deal with everyday stress, and at 8pm tonight, Chuck McCann will be putting on a Doo Dah Comedy show at the Ocean City Music Pier.

    And make sure to check back here next week for photos of Saturday’s event.

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