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Krewe de Guard holds Mardi Gras parade in Russellville

The first Krewe de Guard Mardi Gras parade was held in downtown Russellville Feb. 8 at 4:30 p.m. Krewe de Guard, a recently-formed environmentally-friendly club made up of current and former Franklin County residents, works with existing groups to achieve common goals and chose the Russellville Public Library as its beneficiary of the Saturday parade.

The biggest donation came from downtown restaurant La Niña. In all, about $600 was raised.

In keeping with the environmental goals of the parade, no motorized vehicles were allowed, and none of the floats were permitted to have plastic. Most of the participants walked or rode in golf carts. MoonPies were handed out along with recycled Mardi Gras beads.

Lela Ray, library board chair, said she was honored to serve as the first grand marshal for the parade. “I’m so pleased to see the community come together to help the library and raise environmental awareness,” Ray said. “We had so much fun. This year was wonderful, and next year will be even better.”

Krewe de Guard cofounder Anna Carol Porter said parade participants easily numbered at least 100. “We wanted to encourage people to support their public libraries and to love and take care of the environment, and we had a lot of fun along the way,” Porter said. “The costumes were fabulous. We did a second line for the parade in front of Doe’s and continuing inside. We also marched to the Roxy for Kerry Gilbert’s packed show, and we did two rounds in the aisles.”

Porter said the Book Lovers Study Club handled King Cake sales at the Roxy. The cakes were donated by Big Star. The cast from the Roxy Christmas Spectacular was there, and other participants included Studio X-treme Twirlers, CB&S Bank, the arts and humanities council and the board of the Russellville library.

Hillary Malone Hall served as the Mardi Gras queen. Hall, a lifelong resident of Franklin County and current vice chair of the Russellville Public Library Board of Directors, said, “The library is extremely grateful for the support it receives from the community. I hope the parade will be a tradition in Russellville for many years to come.”

Chase Sparks served as Mardi Gras king. Lexi Crittenden was the Roxy queen, and Trent Gonzalez was the Roxy king.

Dennis Upchurch was float captain.

Russellville Public Library Director Ashley Cummins said she was extremely pleased with the turnout of both participants and spectators and looks forward to seeing the event grow in the years to come.

“I would really like to thank Anna Carol Porter, Tammy West, Krewe de Guard, the Friends of the Library and the Book Lovers club for approaching us with the idea and putting it all together,” Cummins said. “I think it turned out fabulously.” Cummins also complimented Doe’s and La Niña for putting together what she described as spectacular special menus for the occasion.

Spectator Chris Martinez said the weather was perfect for the occasion. “The music, dancing and overall vibe were outstanding,” he said. “The MoonPies were good, too.”

Another spectator, Stephanie McCulloch, said she really enjoyed having downtown Mardi Gras festivities in Russellville. “This is a fun, new activity for our area. I look forward to coming back next year.”

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