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Krewe de Guard holds second annual Mardi Gras parade

Krewe de Guard hosted the second annual Mardi Gras parade in downtown Russellville Feb. 19. The theme for this year’s parade was “Make a Difference,” and proceeds will benefit the Russellville Public Library.

The environmentally-friendly tradition began in 2020, with no parade in 2021 because of COVID-19 precautions.

A coronation brunch was held at Doe’s Eat Place prior to the parade and related activities. Katernia Cole Coffey was this year’s grand marshal, the parade queen was Patricia Cox, and the parade king was John Pilati.

“It was a beautiful day,” said Cole Coffey. “The festivities helped bring members of the community together while raising environmental awareness and generating funds for the Russellville library.”

A crawfish boil took place at El Buen Sabor after the parade, and a block party kept the fun going outside the restaurant. King cake, Moon Pies, live music and more were all part of letting the good times roll.

Proceeds from the block party sales benefited the Russellville Public Library.

Ashley Cummins, Hudson Copeland and Avery Guinn performed karaoke.

“We had another great year,” said Anna Carol Porter, founder of Krewe de Guard and president of the Russellville Friends of the Library board. “There were many fabulous costumes, more spectators and a lot of happy energy.”

Lela Ray, library board chair and grand marshal of the first parade, said the weather was wonderful, noting the day held plenty of fun for all. “I’d like to thank everyone that helped make the event a success,” she said. “We had so much fun, and we helped raise money for our library to help it continue to grow.”

For Tammy West, vice president of the Russellville library board and liaison to the Friends of the Library, it’s a tradition she continues to enjoy with her children. “It’s an entertaining way to spend the afternoon,” said West. “It was just as much fun this year as it was the first time. My kids and I had a blast dressing up and marching in the parade together.”

Although it was a continuation of a tradition for some, others experienced the parade for the first time this year. “My daughter Alivia and I participated in the parade for the first time,” explained Joshlyn Bowen, an employee of the library and vice president of the Friends of the Library. “It was incredibly rewarding seeing the excitement on the faces of adults and children alike as we marched by. Donations from local businesses poured in, and local restaurants had special menu items. So many people love our city, and that is reflected through the support shown. I’m already looking forward to next year.”

Porter said Krewe is excited to continue working to raise money to support the Russellville Public Library, “as well as keep encouraging responsible environmental stewardship and provide a local family-friendly event for the community to look forward to each year. We’re very grateful to all the participants, spectators and sponsors.”

“I’d like to thank everyone that participated,” added former Russellville Public Library director Ashley Cummins, whose last day was Feb. 19. Cummins is taking on a new role as the executive director of a four-library system in Flathead County, Montana. “I hope the parade keeps growing each year. It’s a wonderful tradition and a lot of fun. We’re so thankful to Krewe de Guard for selecting the library as the beneficiary of this fundraiser, and I’m grateful to have been part of it.”

Porter said Mardi Gras represents something positive for the community to look forward to, plan and participate in. “Parade participants always tell me how much fun they had dressing up, decorating carts and making people smile as they strut down the street with their recycled beads and Moon Pies,” she said.

“I’m so pleased we were able to resume the tradition this year, and I look forward to seeing how it will continue growing in the years to come. Many have asked about the Russellville High School marching band participating next year, and that’s something we’d love to see happen.

“We love and appreciate Dennis Upchurch and Randy Cooper for letting us use their electric golf carts,” Porter added. “Dennis also drives the grand marshal golf cart.”

Porter said a big thanks is owed to everyone involved, from the Book Lovers Study Club, to IGA for the Moon Pies and Copeland for serving as DJ and emcee. Other sponsors included G & G Steel, Bank Independent, Valley State Bank, First Metro Bank, Pilgrims, El Buen Sabor, Campbell’s Vision Center, Doe’s Eat Place and CB&S Bank.”

Porter said it takes a village to make everything turn out so well. “I’m already thinking about next year, and we can’t wait to let the good times roll yet again.”

For more information about Krewe de Guard, visit the group’s Facebook page, facebook.com/KrewedeGuard.

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