Tacoma rides cardboard steeds, unicycles into 2014 at First Night

Staff writerDecember 31, 2013 

Lucas Miles led the charge of the world’s shortest parade Tuesday as part of a line of Tacomans downtown astride homemade toilet-paper-tube steeds.

Because 2014 will be the Year of the Horse, the 9-year-old explained, and in keeping with tradition, the theme of the city’s First Night New Year’s celebration was the animal for the coming Chinese New Year.

Behind him were horses shooting fire, an opera singer belting notes from a gondola, a flame-throwing stagecoach and young unicyclists. 

Tacoma welcomed 2014 with First Night-flare downtown, despite the drizzle.

“Dress for the weather,” veteran flame dancer Cathy Marcotte said. “That always guarantees that you’ll have a good time. And the fire helps.”

She was joined by Hilltop Action Coalition community coordinator Lisa Lawrence, who sported a sparkly green top and a hula hoop. They were part of a coalition of fire dancers Tuesday night, they said.

“It’s going to be fiery,” Lawrence said. “We always ring in the New Year with lots of fire. Lots of fire.”

There was music and carnival food, a giant monopoly game in the middle of the street, dancing and art making. A scavenger hunt and juggling.

Jonathan Wick, 8 (but his birthday is in four days), was one of a gaggle of children riding unicycles in the 6:30 p.m. parade, which he agreed is a little crazy.

He’s Tacoman through and through: One of his middle names is Harmon, after the pub down the street from where he was cycling, where his parents met.

“It’s a New Year’s celebration, and it’s a community celebration, which really makes it awesome,” said Steve LaBerge, as he waited to power his Venetian-style gondola-on-wheels through the celebration.

And being crazy is kind of the point, his wife said.

“That’s what makes it cool, is that Tacoma has an eclectic spin to it, instead of being safe,” said Natalie LaBerge.

Terra Anderson, 20, also had a toilet paper — or possibly paper towel — tube horse with which to lead the parade in line with Lucas.

But later on, she said she’d be riding a gravity-powered art car as part of a First Night race she said was between “the old guys and the young, tattooed punks.”

“I know I’m going to win,” she said, sporting short, hot-pink hair. “My car shoots fire out the back, and it’s the only one with brakes in it.”

She crashed about halfway down the track, which earned her the Hindenberg award.

As they prepared to gallop the block on Broadway between the graffiti garages and the Pantages, the extent of the parade, Lucas said he didn’t know what he’d bring to the 2014 First Night celebration, but he’ll be back.

“Next year is the year of the Rabbit,” he said.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268

alexis.krell@thenewstribune.com

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