UPDATE: Due to expected inclimate weather this Sunday, Feb. 11, the second annual Mardi Gras celebration has been moved inside to Clare & Don’s Beach Shack (130 N. Washington St., Falls Church), as confirmed by Tori McKinney of Rock Star Realty. The festivities will still begin at 5 p.m., but the parade itself has been cancelled. The Magnolia Blues band will be playing out of the restaurant’s Swamp Room and the restaurant will be operating normally as well.
ORIGINAL: A collection of community figures look to send their Christian neighbors into the Lenten season with a slightly sinful second annual Mardi Gras parade here in the City of the Falls Church on Feb. 11.
The idea to start a Mardi Gras parade in the City originally came from Clare & Don’s Beach Shack owners and siblings Rebecca and David Tax when they had businesses in Arlington County. Once the Taxes established their businesses in Falls Church, they felt it was fertile ground to replicate the what they helped accomplish in Arlington.
“We threw it together in Arlington because we thought it was a fun community event that people can get behind,” David said. “Falls Church is a very family-oriented place so we thought we could do something similar here and the residents have really taken to it.”
Last year saw 1,800 locals come out for the inaugural parade. This year, the Taxes and the rest of the parade’s organizing members in the Small Apart Large Together (SALT) business group have been promoting the event through word of mouth more so than traditional marketing methods. All of the SALT members have also posted about the parade on their businesses’ respective Facebook pages.
The big difference between this year and last year is the cohesion in the parade’s set-up from the SALT members. Last year was somewhat of a litmus test on the community’s interest in such an event. With the parade’s level of intrigue known for this year, the group made sure the event could be had without any sacrifices to business practices. It was a nice change of pace from the quid pro quo atmosphere that the Taxes experienced when organizing for the Clarendon parade.
“Clarendon was more competitive, but here we’re more tight and together,” David continued. “We all have different attributes and different detriments and all have times where we help each other out.”
Along with enthusiastic locals, the parade also received backing from businesses and key members of the City government. The City of Falls Church Police and Parks and Recreation department are helping coordinate along with Laura Liner of Foxcraft Design Group and the Rock Star Realty team of Keller Williams, as well as the Taxes.
A bevy businesses are also making sure they make an appearance during the parade’s short route, which will start at the police station, take a trip down Park Avenue until winding up at Clare & Don’s for a post-parade celebration. Participating floats include Polu Kite Services, Bikenetic, Dogwood Tavern, Mad Fox Brewing Company, Cafe Kindred, Pure Barre, Rock Star Realty, Lost Dog rescue, Foxcroft Design, Growing Smiles Dentistry, Local Market and Cyclebar, along with floats for Del. Marcus Simon and an Arlington neighborhood organization. Sislers Stone will also be providing a float that will be supporting a live performance from the band Magnolia Blue on it throughout the duration of the parade.
For Tori McKinney of Rock Star Realty, the event is an ideal way for her to show off the New Orleans culture she was introduced to by her husband, hence the bright orange feather boas and tutus she can be spotted in on the day of the parade. And though the Taxes assured that everything from King cakes to beads will be a part of the festivities, no debaucherous conduct will be promoted or permitted.
The parade will take place on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 5 p.m. and begin at the City Hall police station and take a half-mile trip to Clare & Don’s on Washington St.