The Mid-City Gras Parade brings the fun to Baton Rouge while helping the community with a theme that residents will go nuts over.
Mid-City Inc. is a non-profit organization that puts on the annual Mid-City Gras Parade. The parade was created by a group of Mid-City residents who met at the popular Baton Rouge spot, The Radio Bar, and became determined to plan a parade after many past failed attempts in the Mid-City area.
The board president of Mid-City Inc., Twanda Lewis, shared the goals of the Mid-City residents responsible for the parade. The residents wish to highlight everything that is great about Mid-City during Mardi Gras season in a fun way.
“We align everything we do around being inclusive, ensuring that we include every individual and everyone from all walks of life that lives in the Mid-City area,” Lewis said.
The parade is known for annually being on the Sunday before the Sunday before Mardi Gras. The saying may have caught on, but it definitely was intentional.
To ensure the residents of Mid-City could enjoy all of the local Mardi Gras festivities, they choose their annual date to avoid any conflicting community events. “We didn’t really think that out initially, it just kind of happened that way,” Lewis said.
“To make sure that our date, or the date that we wanted to have our parade did not conflict with any other events that were already on the community calendar, it just happened that first year we were able to get that date. So now every year our parade will fall on the Sunday before the Sunday, that’s the date we decided were going to have our annual parade”.
The theme for this year’s parade is “Peace, Love & Nuts,” giving a shout out to all of the squirrels that live in the area. Our local squirrel friends establish the area and helped the Mid-City Parade do the same, with them making acorns their signature throw.
“The Zulu has the coconut, we have acorns and we come together and decorate them, hand paint them and those are our signature throws every year during the parade,” Lewis said.
As well as coming together to decorate the acorns, the residents of Mid-City came together and helped put on the first Mid-City Gras Ball. The untraditional ball with about 500 attendees was live streamed and DJed by the local radio station WHYR 96.9 FM. There were also games available and local artists who had work on display.
“We just wanted to make it a party, make it affordable to anyone that wanted to attend because we realize that traditional Mardi-Gras balls can be very expensive, and we just wanted to make it fun and affordable to the Mid-City community,” Lewis said.
Unifying the community is one of the major reasons Lewis wanted to help with the parade. The idea of bringing everyone from all walks of life together in the community is what she values the most.
Lewis and the rest of the Mid-City board works to bring people together to tear down barriers of races, backgrounds and parts of town.
“To be a part of an effort that is trying to find ways that we can unify the community and be inclusive and create a platform where there’s equity and people feel like they are being valued is one of the big draws for me being a part of this effort,” Lewis said.
One way the ways they do this is by supporting local non-profits as they grow. This year Front Yard Bikes, a non-profit community bike shop, was chosen as the Grand Marshal. They also offer scholarships for any groups of residents or organizations that may not be able to afford being in the parade on their own.
“If we have enough funding or received enough sponsorships, we do allow those organizations or those groups to be a part of the parade at a reduced cost. The whole idea is to make this parade accessible and affordable to everyone,” Lewis said.
People can no longer sign up for this year’s parade, but soon after the applications will be up for next year’s parade.
“We just want the community to come out and enjoy the parade. It’s a family friendly parade, we invite everyone from all walks of life, from 2 to 92, to come and enjoy the parade and have a good time,” Lewis said.
The Mid-City Gras Parade is Feb. 24 on North Boulevard at 1 p.m. To donate and learn more about Mid-City Gras and the non-profits they promote, visit their website at www.midcitygras.org.