Driving downtown on a recent Saturday morning, I noticed streams of oddly dressed people converging on the city center. They were coming on foot from every direction, looking for all the world like pilgrims on a quest. What was going on? I soon learned that this was the annual Steampunk Festival, held every year on Waltham Common.
"What is steampunk?" you may reasonably ask. It is a genre of science fiction themed on the steam-powered machinery of the 19th Century, and on the fashions of dress and architecture of that Victorian era. It could be described as the future as imagined by the denizens of that time—in the manner, say, of Jules Verne.
This was no ordinary festival, but one of extraordinary scope and energy, with related exhibits and events sprinkled over nine satellite locations. The numbers of people coming and going, of all ages, and the amount of time, effort and creativity that clearly went into their costumes, were nothing short of dazzling.
The event was a photographer’s dream, with almost every participant not only willing but eager to have his or her picture taken. The only disappointment was the few minority faces in the crowd, in this most diverse of cities, Waltham, Massachusetts. Perhaps in future, some outreach can be explored.