Doin' the chicken dance

Zinzinnati's annual swan song of summer

The Cincinnati Enquirer
September 19, 1999
by Randy McNutt

When it was over, somebody in the crowd asked politely, "Did it happen yet?"

For the record, good Zinzinnatians did do the Chicken Dance again but, depending on where you stood around crowded Fifth and Vine streets about 6 p.m. Saturday, you could have missed it.

After all, 30,000 kazoos have a way of distorting reality and the best of chicken dances, even at the 24th annual Oktoberfest.

The free neon-colored kazoos, accordion licks by Weird Al Yankovic and the dulcet blows of Rick Hubbard, King of Kazoo, momentarily mesmerized thousands of people who jammed into downtown around Fountain Square.

When Mr. Hubbard, dressed in something like lederhosen and an alpine hat, stood on the skywalk bandstand and yelled, "Let's tune up!", and air filled with the humming of a billion bumble bees.

"Kazoo power!" he screamed. "Chicken power!"

Then came the slim Weird Al, pop-music parodist and self-described King of the Accordion. As he played "Beer Barrel Polka," the city danced -- or stood around.

"Weird Al!" they chanted, "Weird Al!"

Hawaiian shirt and tight black jeans and turquoise sneakers. Weird Al.

As he leaped and contorted above them, thousands of people blew kazoos, danced, drank beer, walked around with dazed looks on their faces and chicken hats on their heads and sensed that something big had happened.

Billed as the World's Largest Chicken Dance and Kazoo Band, the event was sponsored by the Downtown Council, organizer of Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, and played over loudspeakers to a five-block area downtown.

Now, Weird Al is a hit with the twenty-somethings, judging by the reaction.

"He's off-the-wall, man. Crazy," said Jason Bender of Milford.

Darren Wheeler of Green Township, who danced not the chicken but a little arm-in-arm two-step, said he enjoyed the show mostly for the food.

"It's the last big event of the year," he observed, to the dismay of friend Sally Faeh of Green Township.

So they danced.