Blight Watch

Nothing epitomizes the combination of funk and attitude that is Northeast Bozeman better than its annual Parade of Sheds. Begun in 2001 as an arch commentary on the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association’s annual Parade of (superluxurious) Homes, the first Parade of Sheds happened to fall on September 15. Coming so soon after The Day That Changed Everything, the neighborhood attracted droves of stunned-looking Bozemanites in need of a nostalgia fix, a view of the world they used to know.

All morning folks from the fanciest neighborhoods in town stuck their noses into my “shed”—an exceedingly decrepit garage that also boasted a workshop with a badly leaking roof, a sawdust-floored cooler room designed to hang and age dead meat, and an old woodshed with an ancient “No Girls Allowed” sign above its door (my excuse for never getting rid of its contents: piles of old tires kindly bequeathed to me by a previous owner).

The Parade has become a tradition. Friends from less interesting neighborhoods call to enquire when it will be so they can bike through the neighborhood on the correct day. These days there’s an actual parade—or stroll—up and down North Wallace and Church avenues and through the pocket park at the old depot, featuring some of the resident animal life (think donkeys and dogs). Residents dress their sheds up, show off their art, serve refreshments, or play music in their backyards. Maybe it’s the Parade of Sheds that makes real estate in Northeast Bozeman the most expensive per square foot in the entire Gallatin Valley.

This September when the Parade rolls around, I’ll lift a glass in memory of my own shed, which will have been torn down by then and replaced with a building whose roof does not leak, where I can store my car and my stuff safely. I’ve got to figure out how to give the new building the proper attitude so we still fit the neighborhood. I’m thinking maybe a scrawled “No Developers Allowed” sign over the back door.