Apr 14, 2023 - Things to Do

The 36th annual Art Car Parade to roll through downtown

Photo of a large bird on a truck.

The 35th annual Art Car Parade in 2022. Photo: Chengyue Lao/Xinhua via Getty Images

Honk! Honk! It's time for the annual Art Car Parade.

Driving the news: More than 250 vehicles — art masterpieces on wheels — will drive through downtown and Allen Parkway tomorrow.

Why it matters: The 36th annual parade is reportedly the largest annual free public art event in the city, attracting more than 200,000 spectators every year.

  • Plus: When else will you see back-to-back painted vehicles with unique and quirky contraptions, foam creations, and animal figurines glued on them parading through downtown?

Details: The parade, expected to last about two hours, rolls at 2pm from downtown near Dallas and Bagby streets through Allen Parkway near Waugh Drive.

  • The lineup party, where spectators can take a closer look at the cars while enjoying live music, will begin at 11am at Heiner Street.
  • Free and paid parking is located along the parade route. Be aware of street closures.

What they're saying: "We're very much a car culture here in Houston — oil culture, car culture — so how fitting is it for us to have art on our cars?" says Jonathan Beitler, the director of communications and special events at the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which organizes the Art Car Parade.

Flashback: One of the first official art cars in Houston was created by local artist Jackie Harris, who transformed a 1967 Ford station wagon donated to the Orange Show Foundation and decorated it with paint and plastic fruit in 1984.

Between the lines: Of the 250 cars, bikes, and golf carts in the parade, 100 of them are street legal and can be seen driving through the streets throughout the year, according to Beitler. And at least one art car owner lives in her vehicle.

  • Beitler notes that being an art car owner has become a lifestyle, with the creators tweaking and maintaining their creations every year.
  • "They're constantly changing, and they're constantly painting something new or adding something new or developing it or embellishing it more. It takes quite a great deal of dedication to keep up your art car, especially living in Houston where the weather could be detrimental to somebody who's gluing or painting or adding things to their car," Beitler says.

Of note: This year's grand marshal will be Marilyn Oshman, the founder of the Orange Show.


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