“Mud Bay Hippies”

By , August 1, 2016

I despise reinforcing stereotypes. So why, one may ask, were Michelle, Aly, and I prancing around Haines’s main street dressed as hippies, singing selections from the musical, Hair?

Well, let me tell you . . . .

When Aly details a truck, she really DETAILS a truck! (Photo: Aly Zeiger).

When Aly details a truck, she really details! (Photo: Aly Zeiger).

By moving to our homestead, we became lumped into a group of people known to a certain segment of Haines as “The Mud Bay Hippies”. The general consensus is that we’re all aging/aged hippies, who live off either welfare, unemployment or trust funds. We’re apparently either too poor or too rich to be accepted by “proper” society. Or, in the same “logic” that allows people to brand others as socialist fascists, perhaps we are both at the same time.

It’s true that many of our neighbors are old enough to have been hippies. Some actually are hippies. A few men, those who still have enough hair to do so, wear it long. Certainly, we adhere to more liberal politics than some. But, that’s about it. The majority of our neighbors are degreed professionals, mostly in biology and naturalist fields. I’m probably the single most indigent adult on our peninsula, being self employed (see “Trust Fund Hippies?” I Wish!). Even so, the stereotype lingers.

So, I had a moment’s hesitation—the briefest of moments—when our Fearless Director (see ““The Show Must Go On!”) suggested that we enter a float in the annual Southeast Alaska Fair Parade.

One of the cast members owns a hair salon in town. So, why not decorate a truck, dress up as hippies, and lip-synch songs from Hair! It sounded like fun.

And, it was!

Michelle let's the sun shine in (Photo: Aly Zeiger)

Michelle lets the sun shine in (Photo: Aly Zeiger)

We gathered the night before to try on wigs and decorate someone’s pickup truck with water based paints and window markers. Our group ranged from Aly, the youngest there that evening, to our Fearless Director’s mother, who was a beatnik before witnessing and participating in the rise of the hippie movement. In between, we had people like a woman who dearly wanted to attend Woodstock, but was forbidden by her parents, as she was only 14 at the time. The majority of participants were in their 40s.

I was in elementary school in The Summer of Love, and watched, bemused and confused, as the hippie movement entered the public eye and consciousness. I grew up in enough redneck towns to absorb a lot of the disdain directed at hippies, but eventually, I discovered rock’n’roll. That changed my point of view considerably.

I’ve always been a fan of Hair, and can sing much of the score from memory.

Mark and Ronnie prepare for the Be-In (Photo: Michelle Zeiger).

Mark and Ronnie prepare for the Be-In (Photo: Michelle Zeiger).

The next day, we added a few more to our group, including one of my high school charges from the DDF Tournament last January (see Karma Crash) and one of the younger cast members from the play. We dressed up in faux hippie finery (I could not lay hands on a pair of bellbottom jeans, alas) loaded up with candy and bubble jars, and headed for the muster area.

Note: elaborate wigs and star-shaped Mardi Gras beads do not mix! I get a little help from my friend (Photo: Aly Zeiger).

Note: elaborate wigs and star-shaped Mardi Gras beads do not mix! I get a little help from my friend (Photo: Aly Zeiger).

The parade itself is a bit of a manic blur. It didn’t help that my round-framed sunglasses had scratched lenses, and the preposterous wig I wore kept flopping over my eyes (and into my mouth!). It made me look more like an ’80s glam rocker than a hippie, but after all, it’s only make believe. For about half an hour or so, I looked and acted like a complete idiot. It was loads of fun!

We ran out of candy a couple of times. We even surrendered the peanut butter cups we’d decided to hold back “for the good of the children.” Luckily, the parade route passed both of our local grocery stores, and we had enough people on hand for someone to run in and buy more.

Haines parades are short; we finished long before we all seemed ready to quit. We continued singing and waving all the way back to the salon, where we regrouped for a beer and some self-congratulation before we Zeigers headed back to the homestead to hide.

We didn’t realize when we started that there would be a reviewing stand with judges, and prizes given out for best entries. I got a text from the salon owner that said we’d won! No other details came through before the fair crowds overwhelmed bandwidth, as has happened every day during the event. That, in fact, is partly why this post comes a day later than my usual schedule. I have yet to confirm the win, nor have I seen any photos from the parade itself. Hopefully, I’ll have some to share here eventually.

We had fun, so stereotypes be damned!

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