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Group plans Mardi Gras parade to benefit RPL

Krewe de Guard, an environmentally-friendly group founded by Anna Carol Porter in February 2019 is hosting a Mardi Gras parade Saturday – with all the fun going to support a local library.

Krewe de Guard, a group made up of current and former Franklin County residents, will host its first Mardi Gras parade in support of the Russellville Public Library.

Porter said the library is one of many groups and causes Krewe de Guard will support as it plans future events.

“Benefiting the library just felt like a good idea, and a parade will get all ages involved,” Porter said. “When children participate, parents tend to as well. Families can have fun being creative together in a safe environment while bringing awareness to important issues.”

The Feb. 8 parade will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in downtown Russellville.

All parade participants, including parent escorts, must wear purple, gold or green – Mardi Gras colors. Cost of entry is $10 per person for those 16 and older, $5 per person for those 15 and younger and $50 for groups with more than 10 members; however, all Franklin County high school marching bands, artistic clubs and robotics teams are welcome to participate free of charge.

In keeping with the environmental theme of the parade, no motorized vehicles will be allowed. Vehicles allowed in the parade include golf carts, bicycles, scooters, self-balancing scooters, skateboards, electric wheelchairs, roller skates, Power Wheels and the like.

In addition to being a zero-emissions parade, it will also be a zero plastic waste parade.

None of the floats can have plastic. Trailers for floats must be small enough to be pulled by a non-motorized vehicle.

Porter said no handing out or tossing of beads will be permitted; however, beads may be worn during the parade. MoonPies can be handed out during the parade but not thrown.

Children will have the opportunity to get involved with the Krewe de Guard float, which will feature an Australian scene with a koala. The theme of the float will be “Prayers for Australia.”

Another opportunity for children to participate will be with the library float, which will feature a storytelling scene with a book about the rainforest. The theme will be “Protect the Rainforest.”

Russellville Public Library Director Ashley Cummins said she is excited about Krewe de Guard’s formation and plans to help the community. “The library’s selection to benefit from the Mardi Gras parade was a pleasant surprise,” Cummins added.

To enter the parade, rules and entry waiver should be filled out and returned, along with any applicable fee, to the Russellville Public Library by 5 p.m. Feb. 7. Each participant must sign a waiver, including those participating with a group.

After the parade is over, participants and attendees are encouraged to dine at Doe’s Eat Place for shrimp po’boys, gumbo and beignets or across the street at La Niña for shrimp torta, shrimp tacos, oysters and other seafood dishes.

Starting at 6:45 p.m., everyone is invited to follow a second line jazz band from Doe’s to the Roxy for the Kerry Gilbert Band show. King cake slices will be available for sale there, the proceeds of which will also benefit the library.

Lela Ray, Russellville Public Library board chairperson and retired art teacher from Russellville High School, will be the grand marshal for the parade.

Hillary Malone Hall will be the Mardi Gras queen. Hall is a lifelong resident of Franklin County and a 1999 graduate of Russellville High School. Hall is the current vice chairperson of the Russellville Public Library board.

Chase Sparks will be the Mardi Gras king. Sparks is a 2006 graduate of Belgreen High School, a 2010 graduate of the University of North Alabama and owner of Russellville Florist & Gifts.

Line-up for the parade will be at the Canteen and A.W. Todd Center. Parade participants need to check in and get in line no later than 4 p.m. and no earlier than 3 p.m. Krewe de Guard members will be checking participants in and placing them in the line-up.

Porter said she started getting the idea for the Krewe de Guard club one afternoon while exercising with her purple color guard flag, leftover from her days as part of the Marching Hundred at Russellville High School.

“It started with the notion that it would be fun to get back together with other former color guard members and make up routines to perform together,” she said. Porter said the idea developed over the next few weeks after a supportive phone conversation with Laura McKinney, one of Porter’s color guard friends.

Porter said the idea is for current and former Franklin County residents to work together with existing local clubs with similar interests to assist in achieving common goals. “I especially want to encourage younger area adults to get involved with activities, somewhat like they did while in school,” Porter said.

For more information about the parade or other upcoming events or to join Krewe de Guard – for which there are no member fees; all members have to do is get involved and/or make donations – contact Porter at 256-668-2830.

Additional information can be found at Krewe de Guard’s Facebook page.

Anyone who does not want to be in the parade but still wants to help the library is encouraged to make a donation.

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