FestiFools parade. Perennial Chronicle favorite giant puppet is a clock, for obvious reasons. [photo] In five minutes without even trying saw: Ann Arbor city councilmember Margie Teall, DDA board member Sandi Smith, city environmental coordinator Matt Naud and former mayoral candidate Tom Wall.
Streets closed for tonight’s FoolMoon event – Washington between Main and First, and Ashley between Liberty and Washington. Traffic downtown is a bit snarled.
Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (March 7, 2012): The main business item for the board at its monthly meeting was the approval of its budget for the coming fiscal year 2013, which starts on July 1, 2012. Across all funds, the FY 2013 DDA budget shows anticipated revenues of $22,097,956 against $24,101,692 in expenditures – for an excess of expenditures over revenues of $2,003,736.
The difference will be covered from the existing fund balance. The use of fund balance, in the current year and in the coming year, was planned as part of the construction of a new underground parking structure on South Fifth Avenue, and a new contract with the city of Ann Arbor, ratified in May of 2011. The contract, under which the DDA manages the city’s public parking system, pays the city of Ann Arbor 17% of gross revenues from the parking system.
At the end of FY 2013, the DDA expects to have a total fund balance of $4.38 million, or an amount equal to about 18.2% of expenses.
In its other main business item, the board authorized a budget of $100,000 for its Connecting William Street project, which it’s undertaking at the direction of the Ann Arbor city council. The council passed a resolution on April 4, 2011 that gave the DDA direction to explore alternative uses of city-owned parcels – currently used for surface parking – in a limited area of downtown. The area is bounded by Ashley, Division, Liberty and William streets.
Parcels included in the area are: the Kline’s lot (on Ashley, north of William), Palio’s lot (at Main & William), the ground floor of the Fourth & William parking structure, the old Y lot (Fifth & William), and the top of the Fifth Avenue underground parking garage, which is nearing completion.
Of the budgeted amount, $65,000 will come from a community challenge grant awarded recently as part of a larger $3 million grant awarded to Washtenaw County by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. The remaining $35,000 will be made up by DDA cash (no more than $20,000) and DDA in-kind contributions of staff time.
Toward the end of Wednesday’s meeting, the board also entertained some discussion about parking meter bags. The bags placed over on-street parking meters to designate the spots as unusable, so that streets are free of parked cars for construction projects or special events. The meter bag discussion came in the context of a request on behalf of FestiFools and conveyed by mayor John Hieftje, who sits on the DDA board. The request was to waive fees ordinarily associated with the meter bag placement for the April 1 FestiFools parade in downtown Ann Arbor.
One possible approach includes the creation of a parking meter puppet.
Every Sunday in March, the Workantile Exchange – a coworking space at 118 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor – is hosting a series of workshops for FoolMoon, a new event that’s happening in conjunction with this year’s FestiFools street parade. While FestiFools will feature oversized puppets parading down Main Street on Sunday, April 3 from 4-5 p.m., FoolMoon will take place on the evening of Friday, April 1. Starting at 8:30 p.m., processions of paraders carrying hand-made illuminated sculptures will emerge from four different locations in Ann Arbor and converge downtown at Washington & Main for musical and shadow puppet shows – and who knows what else?
The WorkEx workshops run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – they are free, and are open to all. If you’d like some help in creating your lantern, here’s a video that gives some guidance. Alternatively, FoolMoon Luminary Sculpture Kits are being sold at several local stores. The kits cost $20, contain all the materials needed to make a koi-shaped lantern, and are available at these Ann Arbor businesses: Downtown Home and Garden, Peaceable Kingdom, Acme Mercantile, Ace Barnes Hardware, B-Green, Yourist Studio Gallery, Found, and Trillium Realty.
On Sunday, March 6, local photographer Myra Klarman captured the action at the WorkEx. See anyone you know?
FestiKites last Sunday afternoon had been billed as a chance to come fly your own handmade kite at Palmer Field as a pre-FestiFools activity. The brisk temperatures, with a gray cloud ceiling threatening rain and little wind, meant that the sky was not exactly colored with kites.
But there were plenty of bright colors at ground level. On the edge of the field, University of Michigan students with the Hindu Students Council were flinging brightly colored powder at each other in a belated celebration of the Holi Festival, which is held at the end of the winter season.
Surabhi Pandit, president of the Hindu Students Council, said she hadn’t participated in a Holi Festival celebration until she came to UM, but had done so the last three years through HSC.
From 4-5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, as the skies achieved a spitting sprinkle, but did not ever achieve a steady rain, the puppets of FestiFools cavorted at street-light level for the crowd that was several people deep along Main Street.
We were there to look at the puppets, but without even trying, we saw any number of people that Chronicle readers might recognize, just standing in one spot at Main and Liberty.
City council meeting (March 17, 2009) The “tomfoolery” that the headline indicates is nothing more than a play on words: Tom Wall expressed appreciation on behalf of All Star Hot Dogs; separately, Shoshana Hurand made a presentation about the upcoming FestiFools parade. City council’s Monday meeting also featured a brief performance on harmonica by Peter “Madcat” Ruth and a puppet-head of vast proportions resembling Mayor John Hiefte [photo after the break].
But woven into the mix was less lighthearted fare: People’s Food Co-op Board elections, protection for migratory birds, appointments to a zoning advisory committee, potholes, the vehicle fleet and road salt. Council authorized an expenditure that Mike Bergren, assistant field operations manager with the city of Ann Arbor, said was estimated to get us at least through the rest of the winter – saying it was possible that there’d be ice storms in April.
It could be a little unnerving being watched by a few dozen over-sized papier-mâché creatures, but luckily The Chronicle was not alone: Saturday’s FestiFools open house drew more than 100 people to its studio across from Crisler Arena, a cavernous room scented with the odd yet not unpleasant mixture of glue and pancake batter.
The two-hour pancake breakfast event was a thank you to volunteers, and a preview of work being done for the third annual FestiFools parade, held this year on Sunday, April 5.
A bewigged Mark Tucker, who partnered with Shoshana Hurand in 2006 for the first FestiFools parade, said the group had recently been told by the University of Michigan that they could have the room as a permanent site – good news, since their first location was a garage on Felch Street, and they’d previously been told by UM that this space in the Campus Security Services Building was temporary