By Stephanie Wittenbach
Somerville Neighborhood News
Somerville, Mass., Oct. 18 – Rainbow flags, stilts, banners, drummers, trumpeters. They were all marching from Somerville to Cambridge on Oct. 13 while displaying, dancing, shouting and – well, honking! – to the theme of this year’s festival: “We All Need a Home: Housing for All, Sanctuary for All, A Healthy Planet for All.”
Peace, love and social justice were vibrant, with hundreds of protestors in chants, onlookers were at the thousands.
Roughly a two-and-a-half hour walk, this was no ordinary parade. Honk! features “activist bands,” which the organization defines as “bands which are socially engaged.”
With wacky costumes, to bands of every size and shape, everyone used the parade as an opportunity to try and spark forward thinking, conversations and action.
State Representative Denise Provost, (D-Somerville) was one among the crowd and said she believes that in this divisive time, coming together is the only solution.
“Since the 2016 presidential election, the level of distress and dismay among my constituents has skyrocketed,” she said. “Not just because of some kind of abstract political differences but because of federal policies which hurt people.”
Health care, immigration, and climate change were among the many issues that made a lot of noise during the parade.
Lisa Brukilacchio, director of the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Somerville Community Health Agenda, was dressed as a butterfly and was surrounded by bees from the Somerville Growing Center to show the importance of protecting the environment for pollinators and to show that migrants – both butterflies and people – make everyone’s lives richer. She said costumes and art can change minds.
“If you want to shift people’s perspectives you’ve got to do something out of the ordinary and art is really good for getting people to think about things in a different way,” she said as she twirled flowers in front of her face. “And yeah, if a bunch of us can dress up and do weird things in the streets maybe there’s a reason for that.”
In total, 25 bands strutted their stuff down Mass. Ave., according to the organization, that brought high energy and joy to onlookers to the difficult topics in need of action.
One float from Tufts University’s “Anthropology: Myth, Ritual, and Symbol” course displayed the planet earth on top of an ice cream cone or what they called “Melting Earth Cream Cone.”
It was an opportunity these people don’t like to miss to show the community the work that is being done, and the work that needs to be done.They hope people will want to get involved in a particular organization they feel called to serve in or even perhaps start their own.
Founded in Somerville, Mass., in 2006, there are now Honk!s held nationwide. PRONK (Providence, Rhode Island), is always held the day after HONK!