On November 1st, I once again had the pleasure of participating in the annual PBS Nerd Walk, a free event held by Eight, Arizona PBS each year as their entry in the Arizona State University homecoming parade. This marked the fourth year that founder Bob Beard was able to enact his vision of nerddom in celebration of the diversity of the station’s audience members. The Nerd Walk participants have now become the largest group in the parade, and last year, the walk even gained corporate sponsorship from local bookstore chain Bookman’s and Wonka Candy (the maker of…Nerds).
As with previous years, I talked the event up enough that I convinced several friends to join me, and on the light rail ride there, we ran into fellow Nerd Walkers and other ASU fans headed down for the festivities. We all got awesome t-shirts, and proceeded to mingle with our people in the staging area, posing for photos and complimenting cosplays. There were signs for participants to carry, promoting various PBS shows, and tote-bags full of Nerds candy to hand out along the parade route. We chanted, “Sign, sign, cosign, pi – 3.14159” (which for those who don’t know, is from that 3rd Rock from the Sun episode when Dick goes to a football game). Bob yelled “PBS” and we replied “Nerds! Nerds!” Using a bullhorn, he shouted slogans such as, “Make some noise for NOVA!” and, “Who gets down with Downtown Abbey?” to which my friend screamed every time while her unenthusiastic husband groaned. The crowd’s reactions ranged from amused to puzzled, which is always part of the fun. To top it off, for post-walk refreshment, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, invited us to their tent/booth for some delicious barbecue, and my friends and I found a nice grassy spot to enjoy our meal as we took in the homecoming crowd.
Even if I rarely exchange names or personal information with other participants, there are always familiar faces and a sense of community for everyone involved. Last year, I heard some parents say that the Nerd Walk had a positive influence with their son, who had been getting teased for being a nerd until he told others about the walk, how many people were involved, and how being a nerd meant he did this cool thing. Other similar stories have circulated, adding to the positive vibe of this family-friendly activity.
The unofficial slogan for the Nerd Walk has always been, “Everyone’s a nerd for something.” And this is certainly true given the diverse interests of attendees. It is an event that I look forward to every fall and I truly hope that the walk continues for many years to come!
The photos shared here are courtesy of Stacey Woodward of Dream Photography Studio, a local Phoenix, AZ photographer who volunteers her time and talents each year. For many more photos of the event, click here.
Tanya is a regular contributor to the Blue Skirt Productions online magazine. She gives us fun and informative comic reviews and is working on other regular works for us! A lifelong nerd & reader of many fun things, Tanya is a cube-dweller by day & wannabe superhero on the weekends. She loves spending time with her husband & small menagerie. Cooking is of great interest, too. She is also a member of the Phoenix chapter of Very Awesome Girls Into Nerdy Activities, for which she is an Historian, chronicling the group’s charitable shenanigans at many events.