Puppet, costume workshops prep you for Pageant

Hudson River marine life makes for fine muse

BY SCOTT STIFFLER  |  Give a person a giant puppet shaped like a fish, and they’ll march in the Hudson River Pageant for a day — but teach that person how to make a giant puppet shaped like a fish, and they’ll march for life.

But where do you go to develop such a rarefied skill? For the next two months or so, Earth Celebrations has your back. Founded in 1991 by Felicia Young (the organization’s current executive director), this nonprofit uses the arts as way to foster ecological awareness.

Taking her cue from NYC’s civic pageants of the 1990s (with a dash of mythic drama from her native India), Young created a roster of music, dance and performance activities that made its way into schools, gardens, parks and community centers — and, eventually, to an annual pageant that snakes its way along the banks of the Hudson. Participants celebrate the river’s diverse marine species and habitats by donning spectacular costumes and parading giant puppets.

That’s where these free workshops come in. Earth Celebrations artists-in-residence Soule Golden and Lucrecia Novoa will teach teens and adults everything they need to know in order to create their own costumes and puppets. They’ll display those creations at the Hudson River Pageant — on Saturday, May 12 (rain date: May 13). Besides showing off the handiwork of workshop graduates, this annual ecological parade and performance art event seeks to raise awareness for the restoration of the Hudson River and address climate change.

“Right here in New York City, where we may often feel disconnected from the natural world, we are also part of a unique ecosystem where we must curb our production of waste, pollution and environmental destruction,” Young notes. As for the function of those puppets and costumes, she says, “Art does not only have to reflect life, but can effect it too, by inspiring people’s imagination and bringing them together to address crucial issues. Earth Celebrations programs engage the community to celebrate the natural world, cultivate culturally diverse arts and traditions, document and perform local history, and revive the arts at the center of community life!”


Free, for adults and teens

March 3 through May 9

Wed., 6-9pm: Costume Workshop with artist Soule Golden

Sat., 12-4pm: Puppet Workshop with artist Lucrecia Novoa

At the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, room #201

107 Suffolk St., btw. Delancey & Rivington

For info, call 212-777-7969, visit earthcelebrations.com or send an email to mail@earthcelebrations.com