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Mardi Gras parade returning in February

LaGrange’s newest family friendly tradition is returning on Feb. 23, when the Krewe of the Mask will host its third annual Mardi Gras parade in downtown LaGrange.

This year, the parade will feature characters from Hollywood favorites fitting with the theme of “Krewe of the Mask Goes to the Movies.” It will also bring back family friendly “throws” like beads, doubloons and candy.

“Kids go home with a bunch of stuff that they caught, that they earned, and they feel rich,” said Ken Gordon, co-captain. “That is an experience that I remember from my childhood. It is just a wonderful experience, and kids deserve that.”

The parade will begin in Sweetland Amphitheatre’s parking lot, travel down Ridley Avenue onto Main Street, then turn right on West Broome Street, right onto Bull Street and onto Church Street before returning to Sweetland. The route is slightly shorter than the annual Christmas parade, and organizers hope to see plenty of families, including children, out enjoying the parade.

“When you see their little faces light up, it is a warming experience,” said John Cashen, co-captain. “And personally, it makes me feel good to bring them something that they didn’t know about it [Mardi Gras] or didn’t know the right things about it.”

This year the grand marshal will be Troup County’s foremost reading advocate, Debbie Burdette.

“Each year we try to think of people who have committed to a lifetime of goodwill and giving back to the community,” Cashen said. “She certainly has been that.”

Between appearances as Mama Jama, her work with the Troup County Certified Literate Community Program, giving out dictionaries to third graders and organizing the adult spelling bee, Burdette has undoubtedly had a significant impact on reading in the county, and parade organizers said that they have seen that first hand.

“I used to take my grandson to the library when he was a toddler on Tuesday mornings during the summer when she was reading to the children,” Cashen said. “She is nonstop about literacy.”

Burdette also served on the Troup County School Board. Previous grand marshals were Cornelius Herndon and Sue Olson.

This year’s Mardi Gras king and queen are Peter and Cheri Anderson, who were instrumental in getting the LaGrange Mardi Gras Parade started.

“Our organization selects the king and queen from within our membership, and we selected Peter and Cheri because they’ve been key to the organization,” Gordon said. “They are charter members. Peter is responsible for a lot of the units that help do the parade. He was one of the first people to actually put money into the pot to get the Krewe of Mask started.”

Organizers said that ultimately they hope to create a fun, family-friendly event that will last for years.

“LaGrange deserves something really nice like this,” Gordon said. “LaGrange deserves fun things and good things, because LaGrange does so much right. It is really a fun thing to bring to the city and to kids.”

Cashen said that the Krewe of Mask does coordinate to make sure that the streets are left just as clean as they were prior to the parade or cleaner.

A blood donation drive will also be hosted by Flag Pole Park from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the parade. For more information about the parade or to register to take part, visit Kreweofmask.com.