"Episcop-aliens" Invade Southdowns Parade
by Fr. John Tober, Curate, Trinity Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge
On the Friday before Mardi Gras, 34 teenagers and adults, and 1,000 pounds of throws boarded a float to ride in Baton Rouge's Southdowns parade. The parade, composed of 19 floats and various walking groups kicked off from Glasgow Middle School at 7pm to wind its way through Baton Rouge's Southdowns neighborhood, passing Trinity Episcopal Church and School, before the floats and groups dispersed at the head of Cloverdale Ave. The parade is widely acknowledged as the most family-friendly of the Baton Rouge season, and the deanery's float was fourth in line behind the dignitaries' entries.
"This was one of my proudest days as a priest in the Diocese of Louisiana," Fr. Tommy Dillon of St. Margaret's Church said. "It was a wonderful opportunity for Episcopalians to be a witness about who we are, and to come together in witness to the community."
The parade entry was a grass-roots effort that brought people from five area communities (Trinity, St. Patrick's, St. Margaret's, Grace, and Camp Hardtner) together, sharing costs and providing staffing and supplies for the evening.
"The parade was an easy win for us to incorporate into the community. All it took was a little outside-the-box thinking and a bit of work to make it happen" Fr. John Tober said. He continued, "For the cost, it was a phenomenal team-building opportunity for deanery youth, and the public-relations opportunity to witness to the community eclipsed the material costs involved-especially when shared among a number of parishes."
The theme of the parade was "Science Fiction: Resistance Is Futile," and the Episcopal "Koinonia Krewe"-a Greek word meaning "Fellowship with other Christians or with God"-decked out in matching t-shirts for the event. These "Episcop-aliens" reveled in the Episcopal Church's return to the Southdowns Parade after a 10-year hiatus.
"Participating in the Southdowns Parade was a lot of fun. We often forget that Mardi Gras began in the church. Riding in the parade is an exciting way to teach our youth about the traditions of the church while also giving them an opportunity to share the Good News of God," Fr. Ashley Freeman said; "It's a great reminder that being a Christian doesn't mean you can't have fun. Rather, this event was a great way for the Episcopal youth from around Baton Rouge to remind people of the Joy we find in God through Christ."
Look for us again at next year's parade!