A silly walk through some serious times

Street Stories

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — There’s no hidden message and really nothing to think about between the two signs marking a short stretch of New Bedford sidewalk.

Just ask Ministry of Silly Walks founder Kim Jacobsen, a Westport yoga studio owner who inspired the movement.

“I don’t know what I’m going for exactly,” Jacobsen said during a recent jaunt. “I’m just sort of moving and hoping it doesn’t turn into a disaster.”

In our socially separated world, clouded by the seriousness of COVID-19, Jacobsen said she had a silly idea.

The sign says it all.

“Attention. You have now entered the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Silly Walks,” the sign reads, in reference to a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. “Commence silly- walking immediately. Insufficiently silly walks will not be tolerated.”

“I’ve just been losing my mind in quarantine,” one walker said upon leaving the silly zone.

Jacobsen was concerned about that too. After reading of similar silliness elsewhere in the world, she suggested posting the signage in front of the Round Street home that belongs to her father and stepmother.

She was not surprised when they did it.

“Not at all,” Jacobsen said. “I think it’s completely in their nature.”

Jacobsen’s father Lloyd wasn’t surprised when even strangers stepped silly by his home.

“Even if they don’t,” he said. “Many people will stop and comment and say, ‘That’s really nice. We need more like this.'”

So only a few blocks from still idle businesses and nearly empty streets in normally busy New Bedford, there’s this.

A girl with a twirl, a marching band leader without a band, a prancing woman trying to fly and a convulsing dude no one was quite sure about.

“I am a meat popsicle,” he said.

The unofficial host on the red-trimmed front porch appreciates the effort.

“It’s a lot of fun to watch,” Lloyd said.

Call it what you want, but Kim Jacobsen considers it a short walk toward an escape where you can inject some silly into one of the most serious times of our lives.

Her stepmother Kate Sullivan calls it “liberating.”

“They might be walking along and thinking about everything that’s wrong and they say, ‘Wait a minute, time out. Let’s get a little silly,'” Sullivan said.

Kim Jacobsen believes the walk “recreates what community can be right now.”

“It’s allowing us to have fun together and connect in a way that’s different than we’ve ever done before,” she said.

Email Walt at wbuteau@wpri.com with your story ideas and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

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