Tacoma resident and devoted cat lover Melanie Cole is launching the first-ever Kitty Gras in Wright Park on Sunday, March 3. Everyone is invited to come get your cuteness overload in what hopefully will become a yearly fest to bring a bit of Mardi Gras to Tacoma in a totally unique way. Cole emphasizes that Kitty Gras is meant to be a community meet-up and is not an official parade or event – the event will be held fully within the park boundaries. It is completely free and there is no charge to participate or watch.
Cole says that Kitty Gras is a “second line,” a tradition in brass band parades in New Orleans. The “main line” or “first line” is the main section of the parade, or the members of the actual club with the parading permit as well as the brass band. Those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the “second line.” The second line’s style of traditional dance, in which participants walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air, is called “second lining.” It has been called “the quintessential New Orleans art form – a jazz funeral without a body.”
Below is Cole’s Facebook invitation, in her own words (www.facebook.com/events/349789622416342):
I’ve been trying to get a Caturday in the Park started here in Tacoma, so I thought this would be a great intro. Come celebrate Carnival season with your favorite furry friends!
We all know our kitties deserve their own parade, so we’re inviting all Tacoma cat lovers to roll in the first annual Kitty Gras! All kitties are welcome, but must be confined or experienced on a leash. Feel free to decorate any strollers, kennels, or backpacks as floats for your special kitty! Kitties will roll with a parade through the park at 1 p.m. for Krewe du Mieux! All are invited, even those without kitties who just want to join in!
Dogs on leashes are welcome and will roll after the kitties with Krewe da Poo, starting at 2 p.m. Festive attire is encouraged!
Both parades will begin in front of the pathway near the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, then to an accessible route through the park to ensure we accommodate everyone.
Feel free to bring throws for the crowd. Pet treats, toys, and stuffies are a great addition to any Mardi Gras parade. But please clean up after yourselves and pick up any trash as you walk through the park.
Please be considerate of other pets and owners and only bring your kitties and doggos out if they are fully vaccinated and spayed/neutered, and FIV and feline leukemia negative. Dogs must be well socialized.
Kitty Gras is a family-friendly meetup. Do not bring alcohol or drugs (marijuana included) with you. Please follow all rules of a public space and most importantly, clean up any trash you see, even if it’s not yours. There are trash cans around the park. I’d recommend bringing a paper or plastic bag with you for trash pick up.
Please do not block the entrance to the W.W. Seymour Conservatory or any part of South G Street.
Parking around the park is very limited. It is a mix between free and paid parking. Please do not park in front of any fire hydrants, stop signs, etc.
People and pet costumes are welcomed and encouraged. Laissez les bon chats rouler!
Thanks, everyone! It’s cool to see that this has become popular, especially when I expected it to be about two of my friends watching me push my cat in a decorated stroller through the park. If there’s enough interest, I’ve already spoken with First Caturday, and we can get something going in Wright Park every month!