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Posted on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 11:35 a.m.

WITH GALLERY: FestiFools establishes itself as unspeakably wonderful

By Bob Needham

Does anyone not love FestiFools? Is it even possible not to love FestiFools?

The annual parade of giant sort-of-puppet creations (it's always been a little hard to explain) hit Ann Arbor's Main Street for the sixth year on Sunday, and once again, it was an amazing thing to see.

Somehow, the puppet creators this year seemed to have stepped up their already impressive efforts. A dragon; a giant worm; a house with a picket fence; a "Little Shop of Horrors"-style plant with fangs; and a whole bunch more, many of which defied easy description; brought color, movement, and just plain fun back to town.

The weather ended up being just about perfect, and spectators turned out in droves—all ages, some dressed in costume, and pretty much everyone smiling. I tried to estimate the crowd size; it's hard to say, but there were easily several thousand people there.

The way this event has caught on is truly remarkable. Mark Tucker, of the University of Michigan's Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, created FestiFools, but he's had lots of help from countless creative volunteers and participants. One of the great things about it is how it's remained a ground-up event, growing and improving through those efforts. It's a nice bridge between town and gown, too.

And they've even managed to expand the event without diluting it, by adding a nighttime FoolMoon celebration on the Friday preceding the festival, which was introduced last year and has already become a big attraction in its own right; and, new this year, a Saturday night benefit concert.

To Mark Tucker and every single person involved: Thank you. People like you and events like this continue to make Ann Arbor a great place to live.

FestiFools has quickly established itself as a key event on the Ann Arbor calendar, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what happens next. If you've never been to it, it's hard to convey just how terrific it is. See you there next year?


Wystan Stevens

Wed, Apr 4, 2012 : 12:04 a.m.

The guy in photo number 7 is an Ann Arbor character, Tom Goss. He comes out for Festifools every year, playing music on his washboard and harmonica.

Don B. Arfkahk

Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 7:35 p.m.

Events like this one are what makes Ann Arbor such a fine place to live.

Bob Voors

Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

Here is a short slideshow of FestiFools. Thanks Mark Tucker and all involved for a great street party.


Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

So awesome! Almost didn't make it, but I couldn't resist, and am so glad I didn't.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

"Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje points to his papier-mache doppelganger." So does someone actually make a NEW Hieftje Puppet Head EVERY year or are the recycled?

Andrea Zastrow

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

It seems to be the same one every year.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

"When you look at a city, it's like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it." -Hugh Newell Jacobsen

midwestern westsider

Mon, Apr 2, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

This is easily the best thing Ann Arbor has going for it. Mark Tucker, you are a visionary! Thank you.


Tue, Apr 3, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

I could not agree more. Glad they had a nice dry and lovely day to go with it.