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Panoramic view of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn with the Gowanus Expressway and Manhattan in the background.
Photograph: By Felix Lipov / Shutterstock | A panoramic view of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.

Dress up like a creature from the Gowanus Canal at this artsy new parade

The weirder, the better.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

Break out some faux fur, feathers, fangs, flippers, tentacles, scales, and sequins to transform into a creature of the Gowanus Canal at this new parade—the weirder, the better. Think: Freaky fish, jaunty jellyfish, harried heron, radioactive rats, rabid raccoons, poised porpoises, the legendary Sludgie the Whale, or any other fantastical canal creature that strikes your fancy. 

All are welcome to dress in their most inventive, most Gowanus-y outfit for the first-ever Gowanus Art Parade on Saturday, June 1. It's hosted by Arts Gowanus as a way to bring joy to the neighborhood and uplift what makes the community so special.

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"All of the physical changes currently happening in Gowanus have many locals worried about losing the neighborhood they know and love. We hope that this will be an uplifting event that reinforces community spirit, and reminds everyone that people—our friends and neighbors—are what make Gowanus special," the organization's special projects director Pam Wong tells Time Out New York

More than 500 artists live or work in the area, and she hopes they'll concoct spectacular artwork and outrageous costumes, too.

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Plus, she added, the event offers a chance to celebrate the Gowanus Canal, which is "teeming with wondrous creatures both real and imaginary." The 1.8-mile-long canal was built in the mid-1800s, then gas plants, paper mills, tanneries, and chemical plants dumped waste into it. The waterway also endured pollution from sewer overflows. All of that combined to make the "one of the nation's most seriously contaminated water bodies," per the EPA.

Now a superfund site, a significant cleanup effort is underway. Work so far has included sampling groundwater, water, and even fish tissue. 

We want to pay tribute to the resilient and tenacious wildlife that lives in and along the canal. 

"We want to pay tribute to the resilient and tenacious wildlife that lives in and along the canal," Wong says. 

In addition to dressing like a real or imaginary canal creature, parade-goers are welcome to to bring along their artwork—posters, sculptures, puppets, banners, flags, and even effigies—to carry in the procession.

To get in on the fun, meet in the alleyway between 543 Union and 280 Nevins at 2:30pm on Saturday, June 1 before the march kicks off at 3pm. The route will traverse an iconic Gowanus bridge, traipse along the waterfront, and end at a community street festival at 2nd Street outside the Gowanus Dredgers Boathouse. The festival features Mookntaka's interactive sculpture Hedgehog, crocheted critters courtesy of the 4th Ave Yarn Collective, live music, and an afterparty. 

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