The Fremocentrist.com Art Inventory

Create Joy, And Memories, With the FAC Petit Troll

by Kirby Laney, posted 26 January 2018

 

At the Powerhouse, floats from past Petit Troll parades sit on display - ready for re-use!  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan '18

At the Powerhouse, floats from past Petit Troll parades sit on display – ready for re-use! Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Jan ’18

On Sunday, February 11th, at mid-day, the Fremont Arts Council (FAC) will stage one of its newest, and most accessible, art celebration events, at the Fremont Sunday Market.  The Petit Troll Parade may well be the easiest of all FAC events, and the most inclusive, for anyone, of any age, and any skill set.

“This event is all about parading and celebrating,” observed Susan Harper, FAC Board President and Petit Troll Lead Organizer for 2018.  “This one is real straight-forward,” she said, “Just be ready to have some fun!”  For busy mothers, bored kids, or clueless dads, Petit Troll is easy, with little preparation required or great investments of time necessary.  “It’s a lot like a flash mob,” Harper said, “and everyone can be a part of it.”

Over three Saturdays – January 27th, February 3rd and February 10th – from Noon – 4p, the FAC will host free, open workshops for building the petit floats, and decorating umbrellas, all at The Powerhouse.  Yet, interested participants can also just throw on festive attire, or sweats, and meet up at the FAC Booth by the Market West End flags (near Phinney Ave N) before Noon on Feb 11th, to be part of the Petit Troll.

Come Take Your Place In The Parade!

The 2015 Petit Troll participants, ready to roll!  Photo provided by the FAC

The 2015 Petit Troll participants, ready to roll! Photo provided by the FAC

A Mardi Gras-inspired event, Petit Troll takes place annually on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday.  The ‘flash mob’ gathers to plan and strategize, for a few minutes, while distributing costume supplies and sharing floats among anyone who wants to get involved.

A marching band, organized by the FAC, will strike a beat and lead the way once paraders are prepared, to start the leisurely stroll through the Market.  As Petit Troll floats are, well, petit, paraders can pull them with string, yarn, wire or feather boas.  A Petit Troll float is around the size of a shoe box – and looks a bit like a small-scale Fremont Solstice float.  The compact size means no limits on the number of potential floats in any Petit Troll, and there by, gives no end to the creativity that can be put on display.  The only limitations will be set by the number of people that choose to participate – or not.

Create Joy, With Art

“Creating joy with art gives everyone a good feeling,” Harper observed.  “A lot of people aren’t engaging in art,” she said, and they miss out on the joy and pleasure that can be found through creative self-expression.  “That joy, in my mind, is something that helps us live richer lives,” she stated.

“So many people want to be in a parade that will never do it,” Harper observed.  Perceptions of time commitments and experience requirements often inhibit involvement.  The Petit Troll gives everyone a chance to step into the experience of a parade, in a safe, low-key and easy way.  Afterwards, they still have the bragging rights of any other parade.  ‘I got to trail this cool float through the Market,’ Harper pointed out, and they also have memories to brighten dull or grey moments to come.

The first Petit Troll participants, in 2014.  Photo provided by Jen Bay

The first Petit Troll participants, in 2014. Photo provided by Jen Bay

“There is so much negative information out there,” Harper observed, “so much bringing us down these days.  Getting involved in something like this is a public service.”  She hopes young people will be encouraged by their families and friends to come play.  “They will have a positive experience to hold on to,” Harper said, “and to be inspired by.”

“It’s a nice experience to remember,” Harper said, “[Participants] can say, ‘I did this crazy thing the other day.’”  The Petit Troll is arguably the most accessible and engaging of all FAC events, and it launches the calendar year for the non-profit, celebration arts organization.  The FAC is best known for producing the Fremont Solstice Parade (coming in 2018 on June 16th,) but they also produce a May Day celebration (May 1st,) Luminata Lantern Walk (Sep 21st,) Troll-O-Ween (Oct 31st,) and the Feast of the Winter Solstice (Dec 21st.)

Low-Impact, Financially Conservative, And Easy

Every FAC event is intended as an open invitation to all to create art and play.  Yet, sometimes age or skill or time does limit the ability of some to participate.  The Petit Troll is the most egalitarian of FAC opportunities.

“I took it on,” Haper said of leading the Petit Troll this year, “because I know, because I truly believe, events like this create the energy that leads to the Solstice Parade.”  The work that goes into Petit Troll is a microcosm of the legendary FAC parade, and it will hopefully lead people to see the reality of how easy it can be to participate.

During the last Petit Troll parade build, Norma Baum and Christy Smith build floats.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Feb '16

During the last Petit Troll parade build, Norma Baum and Christy Smith build floats. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Feb ’16

On the FAC, as well, Petit Troll has a low-impact.  “We pay for a band,” Harper said, “maybe for some glue.”  Since they can use materials already in-stock in the well-provisioned FAC Powerhouse, the Petit Troll is financially conservative.  This event, like most FAC celebrations, depends on the use of recycled (and re-used) materials, borrowing from floats, headdresses and costumes already stacked around the Powerhouse.  Petit Troll floats, and umbrellas, can also be decorated with treasures found at thrift shops.  The best Petit float bases started life as toy cars – Tonka trucks and Barbie convertibles – decorated with discarded jewelry, other small toys, random spangley-stuff and holiday ornaments.

In addition to the floats, FAC volunteers hope to be able to hand out strings of beads during Petit Troll.  These will have the non-profit’s name on them, to give spectators a clue as to who brought the fun to their day, and to hopefully encourage a few spectators to come ‘play’ with the FAC in the near future.

A Prototype For Future Parades?

One of the original promises of the Petit Troll, which began in 2014, is how it could serve as a precursor to the Fremont Solstice Parade.  Besides building energy and enthusiasm for the event, Petit Troll workshops welcome artists, and ensemble creators, who might want to start their float construction with a miniature prototype of their float, as preparation for June.

“Conceptually, we think it is a great idea,” Harper said, speaking for the FAC Board, “to have it linked,” to the larger parade, “if you have an idea for a float.”  Yet, for now, this remains an idea rather than policy.  Everyone is welcomed to come glue, staple and mold a miniature float for Petit Troll – and if it gets you inspired to do it again, life-size, we can call it serendipity!

The public Petit Troll workshops, on Jan 27th, Feb 3rd & Feb 10th, are free and open to all ages.  Volunteers will be on-hand to help with assembly and advice, and many materials will be available, but it might be good (especially if you have a plan in mind) to consider bringing along:

  • a base to build upon – float bases should be no bigger than a shoe box, but shoe boxes will need wheels, or another method of movement.  Many toys come with wheels, but must be wide-enough to stay stable while being pulled down a city street.
  • objects, glitter, gee-gaws, trimmings, toys, and other fancy bits
  • an umbrella to decorate
  • snacks to share! yum!
Petit Troll floats built for the parade in 2016.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Feb '16

Petit Troll floats built for the parade in 2016. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Feb ’16

Even if you can’t stop by a workshop, consider joining the ‘flash mob’ at the FAC Booth in the Sunday Market (on N 34th St near Phinney Ave N) on Sunday, February 11th before Noon.  Extra floats will be available for pulling, umbrellas for carrying, and costumes for wearing.  If you, or your friend/family member, aren’t interested in dancing down the Market, volunteers will also be needed as supportive spectators – or mixing with the crowds, distributing Mardi Gras beads.

This is your chance, to create joy for yourself and others, while building memories for the remaining dark days of winter – and the promise of the Summer Solstice.  Let the Petit Troll good times roll with the Fremont Arts Council!

 

 

 


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©2018 Kirby S. Laney.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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