The Krewe of Harambee Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Mardi Gras Parade, which rolls through downtown Shreveport each year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (this year’s event will begin at 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015) is always one of my most-anticipated Carnival season events. Bursting at the seams with marching bands, dance troupes and performance artists, this event is big, loud and fun. It’s taken me a few years of “doing it wrong” to figure out a few of the parade’s secrets, and I wanted to share:
1) There’s no reason not to see this parade twice. The parade begins near the intersection of Common Street and Milam Street, near the Asian Gardens and Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. It rolls east along Milam Street towards the riverfront for several blocks, then turns north on Edwards, then west on Texas Street before returning to Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. So, if you really love a good parade, there’s no reason not to grab a spot along Milam Street at the start of the route, then walk one block over to Texas Street and see it all again.
2) There’s a second line and “battle of the marching bands” on Elvis Presley Avenue immediately following the parade. I’d seen some Youtube videos of marching bands performing outside of Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, so I started asking around about this event. As it turns out, the stilt walkers from the parade lead a second line featuring Krewe of Harambee royalty, then the marching bands from the parade take to the auditorium steps and compete in a judged competition. How have I been missing this?
3) Go where the crowds are. Performing artists want to perform for a crowd. The marching bands and (especially) the dance troupes who perform in this parade are inclined to stop and perform a routine where the crowds are largest. The Krewe of Harambee parade is special, in my opinion, because of these performers – from the drum majors to the stilt walkers. If you’re standing in an area where there’s no crowd, you may be cheating yourself out of a show.