OUR FIRST MANDE CHRISTMAS PARADE

What can be more festive and exciting than the Christmas season? Well, throw in two Mande Milkshakers Christmas parades, and the ante goes way up!

The Mandes were proud to be invited to perform in two parades this Christmas season. Our group wasn’t even performing last Christmas, so these would be the Mande’s first Christmas performances, and us newbies first-ever parades as a Mande. We started learning our Christmas routines in November, and the excitement was building with each practice!

Our first Christmas parade was on the evening of Saturday, December 2 in Hammond, Louisiana for the Hammond Rotary Club. The theme was “Cypress Tree O’ Cypress Tree”, and the weather was absolutely perfect.

We went all out in full “Christmas flair”. Accessories included headbands, Santa hats, light-up jewelry, jingle bells, crazy Christmas socks, and even a fully lit petticoat courtesy of Julie Drago. Our Milkmen and Cherries looked great too! The parade began at dusk, and once darkness fell, everyone’s light-up accessories really added to our festiveness. The scenery was beautiful with large crowds along the route, and I made sure to take it all in. The beginning and end of the route was at Southeastern’s Strawberry Stadium.  We marched through some charming neighborhoods, and the large Southern homes were decorated in their Christmas finest. We even passed a park that was all aglow with Christmas lights. Then we turned into downtown Hammond where the crowds were the thickest, and reminded me a little bit of the French Quarter at Mardi Gras. Lots of restaurants, businesses and balconies were decorated – it was very small town, and so very cool!. We danced non-stop from start to finish, and since this was the first parade for many of us, I think we did pretty darn good! The crowds seemed to really enjoy it too, as there were tons of people taking pictures and videos. You could hear a chorus of Mandes wishing “Merry Christmas” to the children throughout the parade. The icing on our Christmas cake was that we won best marching group!  Not bad at all, since the Mandes started less than a year ago, and were participating in our first ever Christmas parade!

The following Saturday, December 9, was our second Christmas parade. We began the day by performing two routines at the Christmas Past Festival in Old Mandeville, and then immediately lined up for the “Winter on the Water” parade along the scenic Mandeville Lakefront. The weather was quite chilly, and everyone added Christmas scarfs, hats, gloves and leg warmers to our already over the top Christmas flair.

The Mandes were near the beginning of the lineup, and had a great red and white antique car right in front of us as if it was all planned!  We experienced some audio issues during the parade, but as in life, things happen and you have to learn to adjust and make the best of it. And that’s just what we did. So whenever the audio would go out, we would simply sing louder and keep our dance routines going. The crowds were thickest toward the end of the route, where everyone gathered near the Gazebo for the tree lighting and sail boat parade. And then, just like that, we’d completed our second Christmas parade!

I’m a huge Gilmore Girls fan, and both of the Christmas parades were definitely “Stars Hollow” worthy. I’m sad that the Christmas events are over, but that just means that Mardi Gras is that much closer!  So until then, keep on shaking!

Love, Mande Melissa

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