Whimsy returns to Come-See-Me parade

The Shadowbrook neighborhood poked fun at Heathwood in the DooDah portion of the 1991 Come-See-Me parade.
The Shadowbrook neighborhood poked fun at Heathwood in the DooDah portion of the 1991 Come-See-Me parade.

In 1983, the year Rock Hill residents got their first green trash bins, parents put their kids in the bins and wheeled them down the street playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" on kazoos.

"Why?" you might ask.

Because it was the DooDah portion of the Come-See-Me festival parade, of course.

DooDah pitted neighborhood against neighborhood to see who could outdo whom with comedic marches down the parade route.

"It really took everybody by surprise," said Wayne Wingate, who was part of the College Avenue Inner City Bin Brigade and Kudzu Band. "We kind of ambushed everybody."

This year, the DooDahs are back, and today is your last chance to sign up. Any neighbor-hood group is eligible to DooDah for $10.

DooDahs were an infamous part of Come-See-Me parades in the 1980s. They fostered rivalries among neighborhoods that each year tried to out-crazy the year before.

With the silliness came politics. Entrants often spoofed current events in the community.

"The whole idea was it would be politically incorrect, just absolutely wacky fun stuff," said Marsha Millar, who helped start the DooDahs when she was co-chairwoman of the parade. "Sometimes, people didn't get that it was just a joke."

DooDahs of the past included a group from York County's Bethesda community that was fighting a plan to pump sewage from Lake Wylie to York's treatment plant on Fishing Creek. The group had people worshipping someone impersonating a County Council member who was sitting on a golden toilet that spilled into a fake creek.

A man named Civi Ta Tas in a female stripper costume mocked controversy about a topless nightclub in Rock Hill and plans to raze the roof on Rock Hill's former TownCenter Mall. Civi Ta Tas was Miss TownCenter Mall and was accompanied by a group of "preachers against porn."

"The zanier people are, the better it works," said John Presto, a former DooDaher.

A particularly contentious entry was the Midtown Reservation Association, a spoof on the Catawba Indians' land claim in York County, complete with a "Come sue me" peddler.

Many people say the lack of political correctness eventually led to the demise of DooDahs, which offended some paradegoers. The DooDah portion of the parade fizzled and then died off in the early 1990s.

The rule for entries this year is that they must be family-friendly.

"I hope they'll have luck in reviving it because we had a lot of fun," said Mary Ann McDow, parade co-chairwoman with Millar in the '80s. "It was a really good thing for the neighborhood to do."