Parade makes school day fun

Owen Smith, 5, and Jace Landry, 5, sat in their “float” Friday morning waiting for the parade to begin at Seventh Ward Elementary School.

The boys were ready to ride in their wagon-turned-float called the “Krewe of Double Trouble.”

“We always call them that,” Owen’s mom, Angel Smith, said. “They really are good little buddies.”

More than 50 kindergarten students at the Denham Springs elementary school donned masks and costumes as they rode in decorated wagons and electric cars and threw Mardi Gras beads, cups and assorted other throws to students in first through third grades.

The parade, Principal Stacey Milton said, was a special way of ending a unit the youth had been studying about Louisiana history.

“I think it’s great,” said parent Jessica Ozuna, whose 5-year-old son, Yovany Ozuna Jr., rode in this year’s festivities.

“This is basically a history unit on Louisiana,” Ozuna said. “I think that it’s great because they get to learn the story of our state, and a parade just adds a little fun to it. It makes history fun and interesting.”

Ozuna helped her son decorate his dentist-themed float.

“He always says he wants to be a doctor so I figured I might as well go with a dentist,” she said.

The parents, many of whom pulled their child’s wagon and walked alongside them steadily supplying them with more throws, came up with all types of themes, from princesses to sports to an electric car completely transformed into an “alligator.”

“I love it,” said parent Scott Rotolo, whose son, William, 6, had thrown alligator beads to match his float. Rotolo said his wife, Karamie, came up with the alligator idea.

“They get to experience their own little Mardi Gras parade where they are the focus, and it’s on their level,” Rotolo said.

Hunter Roberts, 9, a third-grader at the school, sat on a bench as they paraded past him for about the fourth time.

“I’m taking a break,” Hunter said as he hugged a bag of beads with an apparent hole at the bottom of it.

Just a few steps from Hunter was Savannah Brose, 9, a third-grader, who wore the Mardi Gras mask she created in art class during the school parade.

“I like catching beads,” Savannah said as she revealed her full bag of throws. “This makes me want to come to school.”

Social worker Nathalie Landry agreed and said the students told her that activities like this make them want to come to school.

“They have so much fun that they’d rather be here than off for a couple of days,” Landry said.

As the floats circled around the front school area for about 30 minutes, Mardi Gras music played in the background.

“I like the tooth float because I lost all of my teeth in the front,” said Jocelyn Mayhone, 7, as she smiled and turned to try and catch more beads.

Milton said the parade has been held at the school for more than 20 years.