Story and Photo By Amyre Brandom-Skinner
Cloudy skies and a slight breeze made for better weather for parade-goers, in what has been a rainy start to the Mardi Gras season. Considered one of the family-friendly events of the season, the Krewe of Little Rascals Parade proceeded down the 4-mile stretch from the corner of Eldorado Street and Woodlawn Avenue to the intersection of Martin Behrman Avenue and Veterans Boulevard on Sunday, Jan. 28th in Metairie, LA. When the Krewe of Little Rascals started in 1983, its founders wanted a parade that both showcased and entertained children.
“My little sister grew up watching the Little Rascals TV show,” said Tiffany Shepherd, a resident of Houma, LA. “This is my first time, but the name of the parade made me want to bring my 5-year-old son to check it out,” she said.
Children between the ages of 2 to 18 attend and participate in the parade. Middle school, high school, and community groups perform routines along the route.
“I saw the big float coming so I knew what I had to do,” said Markeese Bernard, who attends Benjamin Franklin Elementary Mathematics and Science School. “I looked up and yelled: ‘beads,’ then a kid on the float took a handful of them and aimed for my face,” he said.
The floats and cars driving had an assortment of kid-friendly toys from Disney to Nickelodeon characters. Children raced up to the floats to catch chips, candy, and granola bars. Some of the throws included fun pranks like fake cockroaches and Whoopee cushions along with beads and clappers.
Tina Merriweather and her four children from New Orleans East have been coming to Krewe of Little Rascals for as long as they could remember. “My first time coming to this parade was so long ago that there was only two of us: me and my oldest son,” Merriweather said. “My kids aren’t the only thing that seems to be getting older and growing… there used to be a lot of us out here but now the crowds are overwhelmingly large.”
Parade-goers said they traveled far and wide to have the family Mardi Gras experience. The Krewe of Little Rascals typically has 14-20 parade floats each year. Small children sat on their parents’ shoulders as the best vantage point for catching throws aimed at the crowd. Krewe floats are also specially designed for handicapped use. The parade brings out relatives, friends, and neighbors all in support of the young people they know who march in the parade.
“I didn’t want to walk for hours at first but having my friends there made the time fly,” said Taylor Perry, a Metairie resident. “There’s not much to do if you’re under 21 in New Orleans during this season. The Krewe of Little Rascals makes it, so we don’t feel completely left out,” he said.