My Destination Ann Arbor story about FoolMoon & FestiFools

mark:students

FestiFools cofounder Mark Tucker with students building luminaries. (photo by Julie Cohen)

FoolMoon and FestiFools – two related, celebratory community art events (produced by Ann Arbor nonprofit WonderFool Productions) that happen each year during a single weekend in early April – have a long history of sneaking up on, and delighting, people who aren’t familiar with the events.

“Years ago, we were at the Food Co-op – we’d stopped for lunch – and I heard drumming,” said realtor/business owner Linda Lombardini. “So we went and stood outside on Fourth Avenue, and I said, ‘What the hell is all this craziness?’ as (the first-ever FestiFools parade) came down the street. … Soon someone involved in it ran up to me and put a headband on me, like I used to wear in the ‘60s, when I was a big old hippie, and I looked at Sandy (Smith, Lombardini’s wife) and said, ‘I think I’ve found my next volunteering opportunity.’”

Several years later, Emerson School’s art teacher, Julie Cohen, remembers having students involved in FoolMoon’s annual, Friday night processional walk to downtown – carrying light-up sculptures they made themselves – when a U-M men’s basketball game ended, and fans drove and walked past, trying to figure out what was happening.

“Some people just stopped in their cars,” said Cohen. “ … There were lots of people in town who don’t live in our community, they were here for the game, and many of them rolled down their windows and asked, ‘What’s going on? This is so amazing.’ They were just completely blown away by these beautiful creations.”

Originally the brainchild of Mark Tucker, who teaches a public art course for non-art majors within U-M’s Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, and Shoshana Hurand, then a U-M graduate student, FestiFools first came to life in 2007 when Tucker’s students, along with a few classes’ worth of U-M Stamps Art School students, were asked to design and build large, Carnival-esque, papier-mache puppets (with the community’s help) before winter semester’s end.

Which is to say, around the time of April Fool’s Day – so irreverent whimsy was in the event’s DNA from the start. READ THE REST HERE

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