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Attendees of the Honey for the Heart parade march up Court Street on Oct. 29, 2016.  (FILE)

Honey for the Heart parade to celebrate Halloween and the spirit of Athens

All of the hard work on Honey for the Heart’s month-long puppet-making workshop will finally be showcased in their parade the night of the Athens Halloween Block Party.

“The absolute energy that drives Athens Halloween is what inspired us to add love and giant puppets to the idea,” Patty Mitchell, the executive director of Honey for the Heart, said. “So the parade is the manifestation of what we’ve done these past three weeks and our feelings toward Athens.”

The seventh annual Honey for the Heart parade has facilitated a workshop for Athens residents and Ohio University students alike to contribute to making the giant puppets that participate in the parade.This year, the parade will be focusing on the theme of hearts, bees and flowers. It will take place Saturday night.

Honey for the Heart is facilitated by Passion Works Studio, an art studio that is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. Passion Works has made more than 26,000 passion flowers since the studio’s establishment in 1998, Mitchell said. In light of that, the parade will incorporate many passion flowers, the official flower of Athens.

The next aspect of the parade will be focusing on involving bees that will represent The Wild Honeybees, a local band from Athens.

“The Wild Honeybees play New Orleans jazz-type stuff, so they’re actually going to march with us in the parade, and then also play at the Honey for the Heart Ball after,” Mitchell said.

The final component of the parade will be focused on hearts. People from other states and counties have been making hearts out of all different types of fabrics, photos and paintings that they’re sending in to Honey for the Heart to somehow use in the parade.

“We’re making a heart for every child that has been separated from their family at the border,” Mitchell said. “Along with those symbols combined, we’re bringing all types of life, love and community together. It’s just like an explosion of joy and love.”

With all the different types of components and materials that go into making these giant puppets, it’s hard for Mitchell to say how many will be incorporated in the parade.

“We have costumes from previous years that we reuse, because we’ve had anywhere from 250-700 people participate in the parade,” Mitchell said. “It always depends on the year and the weather, but everyone is always wearing something.”

Anyone who wants to walk in the parade and wear a giant puppet costume can. Honey for the Heart wants to include as many people who are willing to participate as possible, Mitchell said. 

“If the middle school marching band wanted to play, or families wanted to bang pots and pans in the parade, we would have costumes for them to wear as well,” Mitchell said.

Honey for the Heart started because of Halloween, and it was something Mitchell thought the town of Athens would really take to.

“With other art entities in town and volunteering, it’s something recognizable, and we make our own fun here,” Mitchell said. “There was an interest in making puppets, celebrating halloween and then creating visual evidence of the spirit of Athens.”

Mitchell is looking forward to getting to dance and share this experience with Athens for the seventh year in a row.

“We’re coming together and building our own culture, and making your community what you want it to be is a really powerful thing,” Mitchell said. “I feel like people have felt very disempowered lately, and I think things like this can bring us together.”

Gillian Faut, a freshman studying business, attended one of the workshops in preparation for the Honey for the Heart parade for the first time.

“I just walked in here and didn’t really know what to expect. I just kind of started doing paper mache, and it’s been fun,” Faut said. “It’s a good opportunity to help the community, and I didn’t know you could walk in the parade until now, so I’m definitely going to consider it now.”

Lindsay Griffin, a senior studying business, has volunteered with a few girls in her learning community the past two years and has enjoyed helping out at the workshops.

“I thought it’d be something cool for my students to come and volunteer for,” Griffin said. “I’ll definitely miss it because it’s fun to get involved in the community and learn more about Athens that’s not just OU.”


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