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Taft students get Mardi Gras surprise

On Valentine’s Day, Taft Elementary students got a visit from Father Christmas and some other holiday representatives as part of the school’s annual Mardi Gras parade.

Led by Title 1 Math Aide and Mardi Gras fanatic, Peggy Simon, the parade of Majestic Krewe of Aurora Royalty brought some fun, and beads, to the kindergarten through third graders as they prepare for the TAKS test.

“There are no celebrations during TAKS testing, so we decided to do it today,” Simon said of the parade.

After Valentine’s Day parties in classrooms, the students lined the hallways in preparation of catching some beads, and the Mardi Gras spirit.

“Are they coming yet?,” could be heard from several hallways as the excited little children dressed in pink and red for Valentine’s Day waited for the royalty.

As Father Christmas and his wife, also known as Roland and Wanda Mendoza, came around the corner, squeals of delight came from the students as they raised their waving hands to catch some colorful beads.

“The noise pretty much speaks for itself about how excited the kids get,” said one of the teachers as she tried to calm down some overly excited students.

But for some students, the teachers explained, this Mardi Gras parade is the only Mardi Gras that some students get to see.

“Some of these kids don’t get to go to Mardi Gras or see the costumes,” Becky Viator said. “This is Southeast Texas Mardi Gras for them.”

One kindergarten student at Taft was more impressed with the costumes than she was anything else. As Bailey Turner counted her green and gold beads, she commented on Simon’s gown.

“I liked her dress best of all,” Turner said with a smile.

For Wanda Mendoza, this was her second time to participate in the parade, an activity she enjoyed so much she made sure her husband came this year.

“Yeah, she told me I had to because its so fun,” Roland Mendoza said. “The children have a sense of happiness and they truly appreciate it.”

Taft Elementary has had the Mardi Gras parade for about eight years, according to Simon, who started the tradition because of her love for the holiday.

Majestic Krewe of Aurora Royalty in attendance were the Mendoza’s as December, Vickey and Mark Roccaforte as St. Patrick’s Day, and Simon as Mardi Gras.

Simon said she usually asks the royalty of the krewe to participate in the parade if they can make the time.On Valentine’s Day, Taft Elementary students got a visit from Father Christmas and some other holiday representatives as part of the school’s annual Mardi Gras parade.