Revelers turned up the volume Sunday morning in Kansas City’s West Side neighborhood, playing drums, blowing whistles and shaking noisemakers.
It’s Mardi Gras, and Krewe de Prank held its annual parade that wound its way through the neighborhood. Paraders dressed in fluorescent-colored wigs, feather boas, capes and masks.
Because this was a kids parade, strollers and wagons were a common site — as well as bubbles, Silly String and lots of beads.
“It’s just something fun for kids to do and be part of the Mardi Gras community,” said Ocea Thompson, 15, who started Krewe de Prank 10 years ago with his mother, Tiffany Thompson.
“We used to frequent New Orleans a lot, and we were there for Mardi Gras and experienced” such parades, he said. “We really enjoyed the experience.”
While Kansas City already had something similar, there wasn’t any kids krewe. So when he was 5 years old, he and his mom started Krewe de Prank so that there was a kid-friendly environment for celebrating Mardi Gras.
“It’s a fun, festive time of the year,” Ocea said. “It’s just a time to have fun and relax with all of your friends and be part of something that is kind of unorthodox here in the Midwest.”
Michael Gekas attended the parade Sunday with his wife, Andrea, and their daughters, Sophia, 5, and Tessa, 3.
“I did some work in New Orleans and caught the bug,” Gekas said. “When I came back to Kansas City, I was looking for some culture here and found the Mardi Gras culture as well as the little super krewe for the kids.”
The parade gave Sophia and Tessa, who rode in a wagon, an opportunity to dress up and be in a parade, as well as to throw items to paradegoers and cause some mischief.
“Sophia wanted to be a cat, so she’s wearing a cat costume that I believe was meant for a 2-year-old, but she snuck into it,” Gekas said. “Tessa is a mermaid.”
The parade started about 11 a.m. at 17th and Summit streets, stopping at businesses and restaurants along the way. Drummers helped move the crowd of children and parents through the neighborhood.
The sound of drums reminded Annie DeGraff, who lives in the neighborhood, that the parade was taking place.
“It’s fun to see all the people from the neighborhood,” said DeGraff, who was snapping some pictures on her cellphone. “It’s pretty fun seeing them in costumes and out celebrating.”
The parade make brief stops at “rival” krewe houses, where the children pranked the krewes by spraying Silly String and throwing toilet paper.
At the Kash Click Money Order krewe’s house, members retaliated by throwing glitter spaghetti.
“It’s fun,” said Ruby Hanson, whose front yard was “destroyed” with toilet paper. She said her house has become part of the tradition, and while they threw wet spaghetti this year, in previous years they had responded with whipped cream pies.
As for cleaning up, she said the trick is after the kids leave to just “crack open a beer” and start picking up. They bring the trash to the organizers.
This was the first year for Travis Kendrix of Kansas City, Kan., his friend Jasmine Davis and her 9-year-old daughter, Amoreé Dismuke.
“It’s a good day,” Amoreé said shyly, but with a big smile. “I danced.”