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Saving the Norman Mardi Gras Parade (Mar 03, 2011)

Self-admitted parade enthusiast and Norman resident Aimee Rook first became involved in Norman’s Mardi Gras Parade several years ago, and that initial experience led to an overall love of such events.

“It was the coolest thing ever,” Rook said. “So now I just can’t get enough parades. Christmas parades, Halloween parades. It’s just fun to wish your community goodwill walking down Main Street. I really love it.”

In hearing her enthusiasm, imagine the shock and dismay she felt hearing the news that this year’s parade was cancelled due to insufficient funds.

“On February 9, it hit the news that the resources weren’t there,” Rook said. “My personal crew already had been brainstorming for six months with big plans for music and a float. When we hard, the texts were flying: ‘What are we going to do? My gosh! Why did this happen?’”

“I’m a coordinator or arts events here and there, including Norman’s Groovefest,” Rook said. :So I asked, ‘What does it take?’ I made phone calls to see if some on the committee were still willing to help if I could pull in the resources. They said, ‘Yes, of course.’ So there it went.”

Aimee and crew quickly discovered they weren’t alone in their disappointment.

“We printed out some flyers and immediately I had e-mails, phone calls saying ‘Yes, we’ll help! Where do I send my money?’ That was really inspiring,” Rook said. “They were just eager to help. I think they were feeling the loss as much as we were.”

Recruiting donations from businesses and individuals alike, Aimee has been able to raise just over $1,000 – enough to encourage parade organizers to continue with plans for the 17th annual Norman Mardi Gras Parade. On February 13, the Norman Transcript reported the parade was back on schedule to roll this coming Saturday March 5 along its familiar route in downtown Norman.

“Music starts at 6 p.m. on Comanche Street, what we call Parade Review,” Rook said. “Then the parade rolls at 6:45. Last year’s best marchers were the Prairie Folk Circus, Firedancers and Hula-Hoopers. There’s a group called Doggie Gras, wonderful people who dress their dogs up and go down Main Street. It’s really an opportunity for everyone to make art and have a stage, almost like an open mic down Main Street.”

A family-friendly event, this year’s parade theme is "The Wearin’ O’ the Green, Purple, and Gold." For KGOU, I’m Jim Johnson.

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