1st F.C. Mardis Gras Parade is Sunday

The first-ever Mardi Gras parade in Falls Church will kick off this Sunday at 5 p.m. on Broad Street with so many floats (20 and counting) that the parade will exceed the route.

Having too many floats for the route is “a really good problem for the first year,” said Rebecca Tax, one the parade’s organizers.

Rebecca and David Tax, the sibling duo who own Clare and Don’s Beach Shack, already boast one successful Mardi Gras parade in the area. The two started an annual parade in Clarendon 15 years ago which now draws thousands (including pets) and has expanded to include a ball.

The Little City version of the parade will begin at Brown’s Hardware at 100 West Broad and end at Little Falls Street.

The Falls Church parade is billed as a family fun affair where participants will have plenty of beads to toss out to people lining the street. A rolling stage from Sislers Stone will feature the Magnolia Blue brass band, David says.

The idea for the parade emerged at a nascent small business owners group known as Small Apart Large Together (SALT), organized by David Tax and Tamara Powell, a partner at the Local Market grocery store on West Broad.

SALT arose from local businesses’ desire “to do something to gain attention,” Powell says. The parade’s goal is to get families out of their houses, she added, since it’s harder to get around now with increased traffic and construction.

Falls Church is “a little bit of a hodge podge, not a gathering place,” Powell says. “We’re trying to decide who we are as a city.” She says the City “missed the boat [on development]” and has become a kind of stop-through.

The force driving SALT, Tax says is “What can we do for each other and help Falls Church prosper and have fun?”

Thus, the Mardi Gras Parade was born.

Powell says The Local Market doesn’t know what it’s doing for its float as of yet but she plans to be dressed as a fruit. “I think as a strawberry,” she says. “The first year it’ll be pretty silly, but we’ll have a great time.”

Late Sunday afternoon was chosen for the start time, David said, to appeal to families and welcome customers to businesses and area restaurants, some of which will offer kids’ meals for free.

In the Mardi Gras tradition, Clare and Don’s will serve king cake, a coffee cake-like treat decorated in gold, green and purple icing. Watch out, though, there may a baby Jesus figurine — a king cake tradition — packed inside.