March of the Crows a 'ruckus all the way to Victoria Park'
Parade of human crows — and real ones — goes Aug. 25 at dusk
Once a year, people in downtown Charlottetown tend to notice a large group of people dressed as crows and stirring up a commotion on their way to Victoria Park.
But there's no need to call 911 — it's an annual rite of passage celebrating all the crows who gather in the park for the winter.
March of the Crows is part of Art in the Open, which marks its eighth year on Aug. 25.
'You just get to be silly and disrupt things'
Co-founder Becka Viau says more people join in the fun every year.
"It's the community dressed up as crows, causing a ruckus all the way to Victoria Park, celebrating the mass murder of crows that we have at Victoria Park."
A murder is the term for a group of crows.
"Crow families from all across the Island gather for the winter in Victoria Park. I think it's that metaphor of community that really resonates with people. And also, you just get to be silly and disrupt things," Viau said.
Crows have 'strong family bonds'
The massive gathering of the large, intelligent birds has become part of Charlottetown's culture, she said.
"I think the crows definitely are a symbol of life here in the city, and the community has really embraced that."
March of the Crows started as an artist project in 2011. In the first year, about 200 people took part. Last year, there were more than 600 by the end, Viau said.
"There's just something about putting on a mask and becoming a crow for the day. I think we all dream to be free as a bird in some sense. But also, crows just have a really great community about them and they have strong family bonds."
'Real crows echoing back the cawing'
The march starts at 7:45 p.m. from the Schurman Family Studio at the Confederation Centre. From there it winds through Victoria Row, Rochford Square and Pownal Street on its way to the park.
More people join in as the march goes on, and so do real crows, since the parade is timed to coincide with their return to the park.
"So you have the human crows cawing and then you have the real crows echoing back the cawing," Viau said.
"In the first year, it was a magical moment that I'll never forget, and I have to say every year it still impresses me."
Looking for volunteers
There will be two free costume-making workshops at the Schurman Studio, held on Aug. 16 and Aug. 23. Both run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and materials will be available to make costumes. People are encouraged to bring baubles, gems and crow feathers if they have them.
But anyone can show up at dusk and be "part of magic," Viau said.
Art in the Open is also looking for 100 volunteers to help with about 40 art installations across downtown. The shifts run two hours at a time and could include manning an information booth, handing out pamphlets, accompanying a performer or helping artists install their work.
The event runs from 4 p.m. to midnight on Aug. 25.
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With files from Kerry Campbell