PROVINCETOWN — From now through Aug. 20, expect a Commercial Street flooded with Medusas, Bigfoots, and Barbra Streisands. The theme of this year’s Provincetown Carnival, which is organized by the Provincetown Business Guild (PBG), is “Monsters, Myths, and Legends.”
Stephan Hengst, PBG’s executive director, says the open-ended theme leaves room for the creatives of Provincetown to “live out their fantasies.” The 2022 celebration marks not only the 44th occurrence of the event but also the first full-fledged Carnival and parade since the pre-pandemic days of 2019.
Carnival officially kicked off on Aug. 14 with Sunday morning’s Feet Over Front Street 5K walk and run. The party continues for seven days, filled with performances and pool parties. Of course, the most popular event of Carnival is the parade, which begins the day this edition of the Independent is published, Thursday, Aug 18., at 3 p.m.
The parade takes off from the front of the Harbor Hotel in the East End, continues down Commercial Street, and finishes up at the Coast Guard Station. The whole procession lasts about two hours, so the PBG urges parade-goers to wear sunscreen and pack a water bottle.
The parade will feature more than 60 participants, including 36 large floats. This year, the floats are being taken to the next level: for the first time, local businesses have been paired with local artists to collaborate on envisioning and constructing the float of their dreams.
The grand marshall this year is Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, who is calling themselves the “Grand Marsha” to pay homage to Marsha P. Johnson, a drag queen at the forefront of the gay liberation movement often credited with starting the Stonewall riots. Bond is an accomplished actress, musician, and drag performer, best known for their role in the 2006 film Shortbus, and for their long-running New York City drag show, “Kiki and Herb.” Bond is an outspoken advocate for transgender rights.
Inclusiveness and Art
The first Carnival celebration took place here in 1978. According to Hengst, Carnival was from the start a way to “put Provincetown on the map as a center of queer culture, rich art, and diversity.”
He says that’s still the spirit of the celebration: “We will always be an accepting, inclusive place, full of art and culture.” And what better way to participate in Provincetown’s radical acceptance than to walk the streets dressed as the fiercest, most glamorous, or most bizarre mythical creature you can imagine?
Provincetown’s creativity and enthusiasm are what makes Carnival possible, says Hengst. “We all work together to make this amazing event happen,” he says.
If you haven’t yet stepped out in your most mythical form, there are still a slew of opportunities on Friday, beginning with SLURP: Paige Turner’s Tawdry Pool Party, Aug. 19 at noon at the Boatslip, followed by the Big Feet Dance Party, celebrating the legend of Bigfoot, at 7 p.m. at the Provincetown Brewing Company, and finally the Monster Mashup Carnival Closing Party, at 10 p.m. at the Crown & Anchor.
Traveling to and From Carnival
With over 100,000 parade-goers expected, according to Hengst, planning transportation ahead of time is key. The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority FLEX bus will make its usual rounds, starting at Star Market in Harwich Port and making stops in Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro on its way to MacMillan Pier. Six additional shuttle buses will leave from Stop & Shop in Orleans and the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. After the parade, CCRTA shuttles will leave from MacMillan Pier at 5, 6, 9, and 11 p.m., with express buses going straight to the Salt Pond Visitor Center and Stop & Shop.
Commercial Street will be closed to all nonparade car traffic between 1:30 and 5 p.m., so all CCRTA drop-offs and pick-ups during those hours will take place in front of the CVS on the corner of Standish and Bradford streets.
For parade-goers who are willing to brave the Route 6 traffic from behind the wheel and are optimistic enough to think they will find a parking spot, there are a few options. MacMillan Pier (323 spots, $3.50 per hour) and Grace Hall Parking Lot (354 spots, $2.50 per hour) are both open 24/7, and a short walk from Commercial Street, but they fill up quickly. Several other private lots around Provincetown offer flat rates for the day, usually between $20 and $30, and a few pay kiosks and metered spaces in town charge between $2.50 and $3.50 per hour.
Parking is also available at Race Point Beach (300 spots, $25 for the day) and Herring Cove Beach (608 spots, $25 for the day). The Beech Forest trailhead and the Province Lands Visitor Center offer free parking, though fewer spaces are available. A CCRTA shuttle loop starting at MacMillan Pier at 9 a.m. loops to each of these stops every 60 minutes. This shuttle stops running at 6:30 p.m. though, so keep your eyes on the time.