Lawrence Mardi Gras parade brings brass band party to downtown sidewalks, establishments

photo by: Mike Yoder

Participants in the annual Lawrence Mardi Gras parade gather at the corner of 10th and Massachusetts streets, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.

At the Mardi Gras parade on Tuesday, those who weren’t playing an instrument with the “Krewe de Kaw” opted to dance instead.

About 150 people joined in the revelry, swinging and dancing in unique costumes, including a peacock cape, a snakeskin top hat and a pink wig. Cars slowed as they passed the rowdy and colorful group, some rolling down their windows to take in the music and others adding to it by honking their horns.

The parade started outside Aimee’s Coffeehouse, 1025 Massachusetts St., where parade participants gathered and the brass band kicked off its tunes with “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Inside the coffeehouse, 5-year-old Dean Shiney munched on a King Cake doughnut, waiting for the parade to begin.

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Photo gallery: 2020 Lawrence Mardi Gras parade

“He wasn’t feeling well today but he miraculously recovered when I mentioned the parade,” said his grandpa, Dean Palos.

After a white limousine with extra musicians from Kansas City pulled up outside the cafe, paraders eventually made their way through downtown, stopping in establishments such as Merchants Pub & Plate, Ladybird Diner and the Lawrence Public Library along the way.

Brian Kelly and Bobbie-Frances McDonald called it “magic” when the brass band bounded into The Roost, where they were eating lunch.

“We were the first to clap,” Kelly said. His wife, McDonald, said she enjoyed seeing the musicians’ costumes and especially enjoyed hearing the washboard.

“I was about to stand up and dance but I had to contain myself,” she said.

It was Cam Cameron’s first time participating in Mike and Katie’s Brass Mob Brass Band — named after the couple who started the parade in 2007. Cameron played a bass drum and called the parade “the best way to spend a Tuesday,” especially “on a February day that’s usually so gray and cloudy.”

Parade participants, who stayed on the sidewalks, largely followed traffic laws, save for one instance where a musician had a bit of fun with a car stopped at a red light at 10th and Massachusetts streets. After performing a solo for the driver, he also turned the car’s side mirrors out and pulled its windshield wipers up. Cars were momentarily piling up behind the scene, as the light had turned green, but other musicians called the jester away and fixed the car before sending it on its way.

As the Mardi Gras party made its way to its final destination at Free State Brewing Company, onlookers stopped in their tracks and asked participants what was going on. Inside the Lawrence Public Library, two young girls with wide eyes watched the parade pass by from a window, faces pressed close to the glass. And throughout the parade, a woman with dozens of beads on her arms would pass out the necklaces to those in need of extra spirit.

“Happy Mardi Gras!” she yelled.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Participants in the annual Lawrence Mardi Gras parade gather at the corner of 10th and Massachusetts streets, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.


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