Young pranksters kick off Mardi Gras early

Mardi Gras kicked off in the Kansas City area Sunday morning as costumed paraders marched through a West Side neighborhood.

Sure, there were florescent colored wigs. Feathers. Masks. Whistles. A band. And of course beads — lots of beads.

But this Mardi Gras parade was for the kids, so there were also strollers, wagons and even a skateboard or two.

Krewe de Prank held its annual Second Line Parade that started near 16th and Summit streets and wound its way through a figure 8 before ending where it began.

“It’s a neighborhood parade,” said parade organizer Tiffany Thompson, whose 11-year-old son, Ocea, helped start Krewe de Prank several years ago.

“Kansas City has a really long and old history of Mardi Gras that I don’t think a lot of people know,” she said. “It’s part of our Creole roots here.”

A week or two before the parade, children in the krewe went through the neighborhood ringing door bells or knocking on doors and running away. The only evidence indicating who was responsible for the prank was a flyer left behind announcing the parade, Thompson said.

“They are little pranksters,” she said.

Amber and Bob Burke brought their children Adelaide, 3, and Ellis, 1, to experience their first Mardi Gras parade.

Adelaide dressed as a butterfly princess and just wanted to dance, said Amber Burke, who at one time lived in New Orleans.

“We are just here celebrating and having a fun time,” she said.

Her husband said it was beautiful day to be out.

“It’s a family party with other families,” he said.

Jessica Ryder of St. Joseph and Jill Collins of Overland Park stumbled across the parade when it passed as they were in the area for brunch.

They were pleased that the parade made it back around by the time they had finished eating.

“We had no idea this was happening,” said Collins, who was holding some beads that had been tossed her way. “It’s very fun, though.”

Ryder added: “It was unexpected, but awesome.”

From a front porch on Madison Avenue, Eric Dobbins, his wife, Casey Dobbins, and others tossed clementines to the marchers. The fruit had smiley faces on them.

“Believe it or not, we bought them that way,” he joked.

They said the fruit was a way of giving back for the beads that were tossed to them.

At the end of the parade, 2-year-old Sophia Shank danced in her owl costume as a band continued to play.

“She loves it — she’s very excited,” said her mother Carolina Shank, who was there with her husband, Scott Shank.

“I love Carnival,” said Carolina Shank, who is from Brazil. “I guess she gets it from my DNA.”