November 22, 2017
By McKenzie Lee
Mardi Gras is a holiday that is celebrated in the southern United States, most notably in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mardi Gras is a day of full-throttled celebration and exists out of an awareness that Lent, a season of quiet contemplation and solitude in the Christian tradition, will begin the following day. Each year, Mardi Gras falls on a different Tuesday. In 2016, Mardi Gras will be celebrated on Tuesday, February 9th.
Mardi Gras is marked by series of parades. Thousands of people gather on the parade routes and watch as elegant, shimmering, awe-inspiring floats pass by. High school marching bands are interspersed throughout the parades and music, as well as good food and drink, keep everyone in a cheerful spirit.
While Mardi Gras is well-known for its’ big parades with large floats and spirited throws, gifts that paraders throw to all of the people watching (the most notable of which are Mardi Gras beaded necklaces), there are now a series of smaller parades that have arisen.
One of the smaller parades is called “Box of Wine”. Box of Wine is a walking parade that walks on St. Charles Street, a famous street in New Orleans, on the Sunday afternoon before Mardi Gras. Each year, a handful of bands, and hundreds of individuals dressed in their most decadent, creative, homemade attire show up to participate in the parade. Unlike many of the bigger parades, Box of Wine does not throw out beaded necklaces to their onlookers, instead, they pour wine.
Three years ago, while walking in Box of Wine parade, pouring out wine to all of the people lining the streets, I realized that the parade needed an element that reached out to children. Understanding that Mardi Gras is a magical time for everyone, especially children who love collecting all of the throws, a friend and I decided to add a sub-krewe (a small group of people with a specific theme that fits within the broader theme of the larger parade) to the Box of Wine parade. This sub-krewe was named: Lemonade Parade.
Lemonade, for those of you who may not know, is a popular drink for children and adults throughout the United States of America. It is quite simple to make: water, lemon juice, and sugar. Growing up in the United States, many children have lemonade stands, in which they make a pitcher of lemonade juice and set up a table and try to sell their juice to neighbors and passer-byers.
The first year, only three people participated in the Lemonade Parade sub-krewe. Each participant wore hot pink or neon yellow (the official colors of the Lemonade Parade) and was tasked with passing out little boxes of lemonade to as many children as possible on the parade route. Quite quickly, we ran out of lemonade. We did not realize how many children there were!
The second and third year of the Lemonade Parade, we have had more people participate. In addition to passing out juice boxes of lemonade to many of the children on the parade route, we were able to pass out little homemade gift patches that read: Lemonade Parade.
Every year, the group of participants increases and we are able to walk the streets of St. Charles Avenue wearing our yellow and pink and passing out hundreds of lemonade juice boxes and lemonade parade memorabilia to all of the excited children on the streets. This is a parade that you don’t want to miss!