Photos: 22nd People’s Parade in Philadelphia

During this Spiral Q event, it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you’re from – or even if people can’t quite pinpoint your origin story.

Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn

Philadelphians have a knack for putting a unique spin on parades, and Saturday’s 22nd Annual People’s Parade in West Philadelphia was no different.

It was a bright, sunny fall afternoon when I stepped out of my door onto 50th Street. I was greeted by the sounds and sights of people from all walks of life, greeting each other and making final adjustments to their elaborate props, costumes, puppets, banners and artwork.

The event is organized by Spiral Q, an activist and educational non-profit puppet theater group founded in 1996. Its goal is simple: to showcase the work of people in the community. It begins the previous month with artistic constructions and coordinated rehearsals, and ends with a big march.

This year’s parade route went from the Paul Robeson house to Clark Park, and as I continued my walk to the starting point, I ran into Gritty. Well, not exactly Gritty, but someone wearing Gritty headgear. It was completely logical. Like the fuzzy orange monster mascot, the Peoplehood Parade is quintessential Philly. It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you’re from – or even if people can’t quite pinpoint your origin story. Everyone is welcome.

An image of Gritty parades through the streets of West Philly
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn

This is a gathering that allows everyone to dance, walk, ride a bike or move in any way that makes sense. It embraces the notion that everyone should have the right to thrive and be themselves, and highlights the power of art and self-expression to make compelling statements against oppression and poverty. discrimination.

I felt like I was entering a portal as the procession meandered through the streets of West Philly. It was easy to forget that life as we all knew it was put on pause in 2020 and several tumultuous years would pass before we could pick up where we left off – if we were lucky.

But during the parade, it felt like the best of the people was on display, sending the message that humanity at least has a chance to overcome all that is bad and unjust.

Scroll down for more images from the celebration of art and freedom.

Bow tie wearing crocodiles — because why not?  - in the annual people's parade
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
The West Powelton Steppers and Drum Squad marched in the parade
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
Some marchers wore trippy snorkels, others carried militant signs
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
Members of the Save UC Townhomes coalition next to larger-than-life paintings of themselves
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director of PhillyCAM Community Media
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
A group of marchers attract the attention of another parade participant
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
The neighbors came out to watch the show go by
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
'Trust the children' reads a sunflower sign
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn
Freedom was a big theme for the 2022 People's Parade
Tieshka Smith for Billy Penn