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Big plans being formed for Oberlin's Big Parade

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OBERLIN - Getting ready for The Big Parade, James Peake hosted a workshop Saturday at Oberlin Public Library.

Artist and owner of Foldspace Origami Studio, Peake showed participants how to fold paper cranes, birds and boxes, as well as corrugation folding techniques, hoping they could create dresses, hats and other items from the colorful paper.

"A lot of this stuff is really movable, really flexible in a way," he said. "I would love to share this with people and see somebody turn elements of this into a large-scale costume idea - something kind of fun and abstract."

Started in 2002, The Big Parade features area artists and organizations marching together to Tappan Square. Previous creations have included everything from giant birds - which made a reappearance at Saturday's workshop - to stilt-walkers, butterflies and abstract contraptions.

Peake participated in The Big Parade as a student at Oberlin College and later worked as a coordinator at the Firelands Association for Visual Arts, but he said this is the first year he's molded his love for paper craft with the annual arts event.

"What's funny, in all these years, my passions for origami and my participation in the parade, I've never really brought together the two realms of origami and parade art," he said. "So this is the first year that I'm kind of taking that step and trying to create some parade pieces, work with some people to use origami in the parade somehow."

Joyce Parker, of Oberlin, spent the afternoon learning to fold paper birds and other small origami projects. A resident of Kendal at Oberlin and a member of the Precision Lawn Chair drill team, she was trying to figure out how to decorate a car with the paper creations, for those residents unable to walk the parade's meandering route.

Thinking on a larger scale - like a giant origami statue of sorts for the top of a car - Peake said the challenge is the larger origami gets, the heavier the model is. The pair were trouble-shooting how to fold bigger projects, with suggestions including support rods or papier-mache.

For Peake, who hasn't had the time in recent years to be overly involved with the parade, the annual event - and preparations leading up to it - is something to bring the community together in a way that "nothing else in Oberlin ever does."

"I remember the first time I visited the parade, I kind of just stumbled upon a Big Parade one Saturday - woke up, heard this noise going on downtown, wandered into town and then there's this wacky, fun art parade going down the street - but I was immediately struck by how there's all these kids and college students and senior citizens all together marching and having fun. I was sold from there on out."

The next workshop for The Big Parade at Oberlin Library is 1 to 4 p.m. March 2. Artist Claudio Orso, known for his large-scale costumes built out of recycled cardboard, will host. The Big Parade is May 4.

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