COLUMBIA — The jazz horns could be heard from University Avenue as they played in celebration of the official kickoff of the True/False Festival.
The parade was advertised as an event to let Columbia know True/False is here. The crowds within blocks of the parade’s route, which went east on Broadway and stopped at Stephens College’s Macklanburg Playhouse (converted to Macklanburg Cinema for screenings over the weekend), could hear the declaration loud and clear.
Glen David Andrews, a New Orleans trombonist, led the parade with sweet, bassy slurs and jazzy, staccato improvisations. The Missouri Drumline brought up the rear, providing a brisk, pulsing tempo for both the parade and the spectators.
Other members of the parade drew attention in their own ways.
Gina Overshiner, at the parade with Lee Elementary School students, described herself as a “high-wheeler.” Overshiner and a handful of others rode penny-farthing bicycles, the early bicycles known for their remarkable contrast in size between their massive front wheel and tiny rear wheel.
Although riding so high from the ground looks quite treacherous, Overshiner said, “it’s like anything. It takes practice. You just have to make sure to put your leg to the side as you’re falling down.”
Even though Overshiner considers the parade a highlight of the weekend, she is a filmgoer as well as a parade performer. She is especially looking forward to seeing the films “Burma VJ” and “Big River Man.”
Many other strange sights accompanied the high-wheelers. A group of costumed Columbians strode down Broadway in outfits as diverse as aliens, alligators and Transformers. Snow White even took a ride in the trademark Shakespeare’s Pizza's bicycle rickshaw.
Members of CoMo Polo, Columbia’s bicycle polo league, glided down the parade route, complete with polo mallets and cardboard shields over the spokes to keep them from being tripped by stray mallets.
As the parade reached Macklanburg Cinema, the crowd began to disperse. Most chatted about the films they planned to attend, or which bar or restaurant they would meet at later. Although the parade wasn't focused on the film fair, it was clear that everyone was still focused on the bulk of the festival to come.
A pair of women dressed as Lewis and Clark, famed explorers of the American West, had successfully made the trek through the parade, sporting a canoe constructed of cardboard and duct tape. One wore a raccoon-skin cap, and the other showed off a weathered fedora.
Through all the insanity, "Lewis" and "Clark" could testify to the purpose of the parade. “Paul Sturtz and David Wilson are the real explorers,” “Meriwether” said, pointing to a picture of the Ragtag Cinema and True/False Film Festival founders that was taped to the bow of the beat-up boat. “They’re the real explorers for putting on a festival like this in Columbia.”