Houston Art Car Parade displays outlandish rides



Wacky colorful vehicles move slowly along the parade route during the Art Car Parade in Houston, Texas. (Larry Bleiberg/Dallas Morning News/MCT)

Madison Daugherty, Reporter

The road of creativity was certainly paved April 11, marking a 28 yearlong run of the Annual Houston Art Car Parade.

Artistic families and citizens from all around Houston, Texas participate in the Annual Art Car Parade. From sedans with un-proportional animals perched on the roof, to giant high heel shoes hooked up to motors, the gift of invention the participants have surely wows the crowd.

This parade has been a tradition since the year of 1986, on May 14. Although, there were not nearly as many vehicles entering the show as today.  During the first parade only 11 cars were decorated and driven down Montrose Boulevard. As the years progressed, more and more people decorated their cars and drove in the parade. By 2004 there were at least 250 entries. Not only did the vehicle count grow, but so did the crowd. At the 2004 Parade, a number of 10,000 citizens gathered to witness the wonderful artistic talent. Two years drive on and an additional ten cars add to the 250 contestants. When 2007 arrived, there were 282 entries.

The artists who each parade design something different get better with every show. The level of creative construction rises year after year, as well as the level of expectation. The Houston Parade is no longer just for cool cars, but also wicked wagons and fast scooters. People in the crowd bring an energetic attitude, appreciating every artist’s vehicle.

Some cars are so “out there” that it drops the jaws of the audience.  Previous Art Car Parade winners know exactly how to have an eye opening reaction. In 2013, a man named Joe Haden won first place with his “Tired & Feathered” car. His vehicle mocks a huge turkey with long black feathers draping the wheels. Another first place winner that year was a man named Andy Hazell. His entry is named “Heroicar” and represents superman lying on the roof of the car. Many interesting competitors came out. Some entries had snow globes glued all around the car, others were themed and styled. In 2012, Mark Bradford won the Mayor’s Cup with his “Mr. Green” design.

For those whom may be curious on how to enter, sponsor or simple participate a bit more than watching. The official Houston Art Car Parade website offers limitless information and guidance. Positions available to the public to volunteer are duties such as, an ID checker, being in charge of parade set up and ticket takers. These are the simple options, yet there are more complicated jobs with a little more responsibility. Working as a bridge spotter includes warning the participants to keep caution of their head while driving underneath the Allen Parkway Bridge. The job of crowd control gives much authority and needs someone who is outgoing and bubbly. For the family-friendly, creative volunteers, the gift-shop is always in desperate need of fun citizens. Working at the gift shop involves selling Art Car Parade t-shirts, posters, hats, and other fantastic merchandise a child might desire. One other interesting opportunity to volunteer is to be in charge with the Green Team. This group is up and ready at the break of dawn and in town by morning. They ride bicycles, skates, or roller blades and keep sure that all vehicles in the show are working properly.

Being prepared for the show is an easy preparation, if the following tasks are preceded. Whether it be sunny and warm or cloudy with a chance of rain, it is always important to carry sunscreen with the family. Sunrays are strong enough to seep through gray clouds; therefore any family member may be in harm of a tender burn. The website also recommends water, digital cameras for bright memories and a positive attitude.

The Houston Art Car Parade is an event that has driven through decades and will continue to ride on.