Township Councillor Patrina Arnason dressed up in Mardi Gras garb to transform Fort Langley into New Orleans during the Jazz and Arts Festival’s opening parade last year. The festival has had to adapt due to COVID-19 protocols. (Langley Advance Times files)

Mardi Gras parade being made in Fort Langley

The video will be shown at the Fort Langley ‘Virtual’ Jazz and Arts Festival in early September

The Fort Langley ‘Virtual’ Jazz and Arts Festival is holding a parade Saturday morning but safely.

The festival, which holds its big virtual event Sept. 4 and 5, is holding a musical parade on a small stretch of Fort Langley’s main thoroughfare this coming Saturday.

The Mardi Gras strolling parade will be recorded and posted to help generate interest in the early September festival.

Originally scheduled for noon, the parade has been moved to 10 a.m. after the Township and organizers conferred about the safest way to do it.

“We agreed together it would make sense if we could start the parade earlier,” explained Karen Zukas, the festival executive director.

Traditionally the festival is opened with the strolling parade but that’s not possible this year and so the organizers are recording the strolling parade to show.

The parade goes from the Fort Langley Community Hall north on Glover Road to the historic CN Station as participating musicians perform upbeat music.

She noted that the public will be asked to give the parade a wide berth, and suggested anyone interested in watching can do so safely distanced from the other side of the street. The parade will be going down the western sidewalk.

A six-piece traditional jazz band, the RazzMaJazz Ensemble, and parade marshall Petrina Arnason will lead the walking parade.

The public has a chance to participate with the event starting at 10 a.m. Up to 50 people can sign up to take part and are encouraged to dress in colourful Mardi Gras-style attire. Expect to see lots of traditional Mardi Gras colours – purple (symbolizing justice), green (for faith), and gold (symbolizing power).

“It’s really a joyful strolling parade that’s family friendly,” she explained.

Participating members of the public do not need any musical experience, nor dance experience, just a desire to experience a southern-style strolling parade. In the past, anyone who wanted could join in but this year the organizers are following coronavirus protocols that limit gatherings to 50 or fewer people.

If participants are in the same bubble, they can stroll together, otherwise, social distancing is required.

Organizers have created a list of rules for help keep everyone safe.

• Limit the number of parade participants to 50 people

• Require pre-registration to participate in the parade

• Have a hand sanitizer station at the beginning of parade

• Ask participants to stay in their own bubble and ensure there is a safety zone around themselves

• Maintain safe social distances between participants

The festival started in 2018 and is run by a non-profit organization to offer jazz acts and visual arts. In the past it was typically held in July but has been moved to September to allow for more planning due to the global pandemic.

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