Kids Birthday Party

Kids Birthday Party

Posted by Harley Davidson Friday, September 5, 2008 0 comments
One of the most quintessentially "weird" Austin festivals, Eeyore’s Birthday party was first held in 1963, and hasn’t missed a year since. A costume party, festival, fund-raiser and all around good time, this annual event is marked by games and contests, and lots of drumming. Although a hippie-atmosphere prevails, families and lots of children always enjoy the maypole, face painting, and other family-friendly activities. Usually held the last Saturday in April, before the heat of the summer sets in, this is one of the most pleasant and fun experiences, and for many it is a spring time tradition.

Named for the adorably depressive donkey in AA Milne's classic children's book Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore’s Birthday Party began as a celebration of spring for UT English students and faculty, who would set up a Maypole and borrow a live donkey – a tradition that persists to this day. Originally held in the tiny Eastwood Park close to the UT Campus, the celebration’s popularity soared early on, and in 1974 the party moved to Pease Park, where it continues to be held.

As the attendance swelled to the thousands, Austin's Friends of the Forest Foundation got involved, both to provide much needed food and drink concessions to the participants, and to utilize the proceeds to distribute among Austin charities. This humanitarian aspect of the festival, for which admission has always been free, differentiates it from the other commercial festivals, engendering a feeling of longevity and community. The foundation has raised as much as $15,000.00 in one festival, making grants to a diverse number of charitable organizations including the Green Corn Project, Groundworks Music Project, Hearts and Hooves, Hospice Austin, and the Mother's Milk Bank.

The party usually begins mid-morning, and lasts until the sun goes down, and a dedicated children’s area is manned until 4PM. One of the hallmarks of this event is the drum circle, an amorphous group of drummers that constantly expands and ebbs and splinters and regroups during the course of the day. Although costumes are not mandatory, many take the opportunity to don colorful and festive outfits, trimmed with feathers and sequins, with big hats and silly masks. Musicians are invited to bring their acoustic instruments, and groups, both established and spontaneous, entertain throughout the day.

Parking is scarce, so the Friends of the Forest Foundation organizes shuttle service from designated parking lots downtown. No bottles, cans or coolers are allowed, but visitors will find countless food and drink concessions, including Texas beer and BBQ turkey legs. Crafts, commemorative tee-shirts and other curios are also for sale in the kiosks. Eeyore’s Birthday Party is a celebration of spring, but also a celebration f Austin. The things that have made Austin unique – music, food, counter-culture, whimsy – these are the backbone of this long lasting event. This festival has been doing its part to keep Austin weird for over forty years, and will likely continue for 40 more.


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