The Annual Douglas “parade for adults” will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. What will that look like? Twelve thousand spectators. Costume judging contests in two towns’ restaurants and bars. Free shuttle buses making constant loops between Douglas and Saugatuck throughout the day, and after the Saturday night parade wraps up. It’s one of the busiest weekends of the year in Douglas and Saugatuck.
The parade on Oct. 28 is billed as an adult event. “If people bring their kids to a parade at 10 p.m., they probably have an inkling that there may be some adult content,” said Erin Wilkinson, who heads up the event planning. “In this community, people aren’t offended by the content. People assume it’s going to be risqué and flamboyant — it really isn’t. We don’t let anything offensive down the road.”
We’ll leave the daytime fun and games to you to figure out. Here’s the scoop on the 10 p.m. parade. Last year 720 people participated, some solo and quite a few in groups that dress up together as, for instance, the Rockford Peaches women’s baseball team from A League of Their Own, but with beards. “You know the kids who made their own costumes? This is where those people go when they grow up,” Wilkinson said.
The parade only goes four blocks, but it lasts about an hour. That’s partly because it zigzags, so spectators on both sides of Center Street can get a great view of every costume. Also, performances are part of the package. When a book group Wilkinson calls “the funniest ladies in Saugatuck” dressed one year as a bunch of people on a roller coaster, they paused frequently to lean right together, lean left, and scream. Multiply shenanigans like that by a whole bunch of fun-loving groups. You get the picture.
The logistical lowdown: Tiny town + thousands of people = a good reason to arrive early to park. Make a day of it in Saugatuck or Douglas, then make your way to the parade route on foot or by shuttle as night falls.
Parking is available in Saugatuck in public lots and on the streets. Limited on-street parking is available in Douglas (and fills up early). Free parking is also available at 200 Blue Star Highway, a former Haworth facility about a third of a mile from the parade route.
Free shuttles will run regularly during the day and evening between Douglas and Saugatuck, and between downtown Douglas and 200 Blue Star Highway. For shuttle details, see the event website.
To participate, just show up at 9 p.m. at 130 West Center Street in Douglas (the Saugatuck-Douglas History Center, aka The Old School House). Volunteers will get participants lined up. At 10 p.m., the parade will set off down Center Street led by the Pumpkin King.
Not allowed in the parade: Motorized vehicles. Tossing candy or other items to spectators.
Parental advisory: Some costumes may be “very mature for young eyes” and advises parents to be prepared to have a “very adult conversation” with kids about some costumes they may see. Children must be accompanied by an adult.