It’s a sunny bluebird Saturday in May, and a man and dog dressed in colorful medieval costumes are waiting at the corner outside the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club: Jack Klauschie and Linus are ready to Walk n’ Wave.
The new neighborhood tradition started last month, after a spreading pandemic led to widespread closures and government restrictions affecting nearly every part of daily life. Schools, businesses, and other gathering places shut their doors. Widespread job loss followed. The community rallied in response. In South Addition, two newly out-of-work women dressed up in full-sized dinosaur and unicorn costumes, then roamed the streets to bring smiles to the city. A photo made it into the Anchorage Daily News.
Klauschie thought it was just what his neighborhood needed — and he had the materials to make it happen.
A teacher and former drama department director, Klauschie once ran a local theater group, too: The Character Workshop performed children’s theater, reader’s theater, walk-through mysteries at the library and dance theater at the state fair. There were touring Gilbert and Sullivan shows, a Valentine’s choral group and Christmas caroling at senior centers and hospitals. While it all ended about four years ago, the costumes remained, along with costumes from staff dress-up days at school and other occasions.
“So yeah — I have like 400, 450 costumes,” Klauschie said.
He took his first costumed stroll through the neighborhood in early April, dressed up as Scooby-Doo, Scrappy-Doo sauntering happily by his side. The next weekend, responding to his invitation in a private Facebook group for Mountain View residents, a few neighbors showed up to join him. The occasion became known as the Walk n’ Wave; the themes rotate every week. After Scooby and Scrappy came the Nightmare Before Christmas, then Outer Space. On this particular Saturday afternoon, the theme is medieval, and Klauschie wears a purple crown and striped tunic while Linus sports a multicolored jester collar.
A few minutes after noon, after a few neighbors have gathered, the group sets off, members trailing down the street, walking at a distance as public health guidelines recommend. They pass kids coloring with chalk in driveways and playing in front yards, adults relaxing on porches, drivers and bicyclists. They wave at everyone. Most everyone waves back. A man in a van slows down and opens his door to shout something out as he rolls past – “I like your costumes, have a good day, God bless you!”
By the time the extended procession arrives back in front of the Boys and Girls Club, it’s grown to more than half a dozen neighbors. There’s already a theme for the next walk: May 9 will be “Life’s a Beach.” It starts at noon in front of the Boys and Girls Club.
“My hope is that this will just keep going until we don’t need it anymore, the epidemic’s over; that’s the hope,” Klauschie said. “Then I’ll still be walking my dogs around the neighborhood, but just not in costume.”