Monday, July 20, 2009

Christmas In July Mardi Gras Style

King Parts Clouds at the Zoo

Despite the rumbles of thunder and the bright flashes of lightning in the early afternoon the Zoo’s Christmas in July Mardi Gras Style on Saturday July 18th went off as planned.

The torrential rain halted just in time for the King of Mardi Gras to appear before his loyal subjects gathered at Cherry Brook Zoo for the 3rd annual Summer Festival celebrating Christmas and Mardi Gras in July. “All Hail Rex” cheered the crowd as they, and even Penny the Llama, bowed before King Gary Sullivan, resplendent in crown and sceptre. He issued a special welcome to the visiting children from Belfast, Northern Ireland and their Canadian hosts, and to military families from Base Gagetown invited for the day.

Led by Penny, a jazz duet, and Rex, the Mardi Gras Parade followed a much shortened route due to the imminent threat of more rain. Revellers wore brightly coloured feather masks and beads brought in from New Orleans for the occasion while children carried jingle sticks decorated with ribbons and bells.

Upon return to the main building, where activities were centered due to inclement weather, children broke into a loud version of “Here Comes Santa Claus” who then appeared in a grand entrance to meet Mrs. Claus and accompanied by his Elf, Frances Dunn, and a chaperone from Belfast. The Elf and Santa had just finished a visit with kids at the paediatrics department of the Regional Hospital where he presented stuffed animals, jungle sticks, and Mardi Gras beads to the children and even feather masks for the nurses.

As children lined up to spend individual time with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who had a small gift for each of beads and a special picture of his Reindeer Clarice, who lives at the Cherry Brook Zoo. Meanwhile, everyone enjoyed free cake and juice and had great fun making their own ice cream sundaes. Face and nail painting along with Christmas crafts kept children entertained while the jazz duet continued to play. There was time too for a bit of science as kids made snow that later became the highlight of a unique Belfast Kids Project photo – a special souvenir photo of the children in the midst of a Saint John “snow storm”.

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