Annual Festival of Humor in Odessa

Odessa, the city I was born in, is a remarkable place, standing out historically, architecturally and geographically, famous for its multi-culturalism and humor.  And this is NOT an April Fool’s joke.

The festival of Humor, the so-called Humorina (derived from the “humor”, naturally), is a traditional and perhaps the most famous festival Odessa is known for. Every year on April 1 a parade of clowns, acrobats, performers, dance studios, art studios, decorated carts and their lot walk across the downtown in a most picturesque crowd, bursting vibrant colors accompanied with loud music and jokes. It actually appears very much alike the Mardi Grass festival in the U.S.

In recent years we’ve had insertions of “fresh blood”, such as these lovely dancers (even if they are promoting their agenda through dances, don’t they look beautiful?!):

The day of festivities always wraps up with a free pop music concert held on our famous 220 year-old 200-steps Potemkin Stairs. So, just to give you an idea of the scale of the whole enterprise, these are the Stairs on a usual day:

And this is how the same stairs look on the night of April 1 (and September, 2 – the Birthday of Odessa):

As you can probably tell, this festival attracts enormous crowds of people. Mostly tourists. They come from far and wide, even from Kyiv (our capital) and Moldova (a small neighboring country), special bus routes are launched every year to transport the in-flow. A surprising thing personally for me has always been the briskness of the event. I mean, thousands of people flood the city for exactly one day. The crowds are all gone by mid night. The only evidence of the day’s festivities is trash in the streets, that is IF a local is unfortunate to get up to work REALLY early the next morning.

A word on locals. We, the downtown folks, myself including, do not step out of our apartments since the night of March 31 until the morning April 2. Really. We are not homophobic. Neither are we tourist-haters. We simply know better than sticking our butts into a tipsy crowd of strangers in high spirits. Call it the basic instinct.

Stay safe and have a joyful April Fool’s Day!!

P.S. I have heard that this year, 2014, the April Fool’s Day parade has been cancelled in honor of the 100 and more people who died during the recent political clashes in Kiev. I would  not trust any other reasons that the media might be putting out there, such as it has been cancelled to protect the Russian speakers in Odessa, or any other political bullshit. The festival has been held every year since its launch in 1973, that is throughout the Soviet Rule and the 20 years of  Independence. The festival is so widely known and loved that even politicians don’t miss a chance to speak on its stage. I believe there is no such force to put the Humorina down for political reasons.

 

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