Former Clarendon business owners Rebecca and David Tax know how to have a good time — and 15 years ago, they stepped out on a limb and started something that still draws quite a crowd to the neighborhood.
The 15th Annual Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras Parade has grown substantially from the 10 floats it had in its inaugural year and has become a big deal for the entire region. This year’s parade at 8 p.m. on Tuesday is expected to be the biggest yet.
“We were trying to promote the restaurants in the area and we thought it would be fun,” David Tax said recently inside the Falls Church restaurant he runs with his sister, Clare and Don’s Beach Shack.
More than 40 exhibitors are expected to participate.
Matt Hussmann, director of the Clarendon Alliance – the group responsible for planning the parade – said two years ago only 29 exhibitors participated. He said the annual Mardi Gras Parade Pre-Party at Bayou Bakery would be bigger than ever.
[Read more about parking and street closure information for the Mardi Gras event]
Thinking back on its early days, David and Rebecca joked about building floats and the one time a float ran out of gas. At the time the two started the parade, they owned Mexicali Blues and Lazy Sundae, taking the latter with them to Falls Church, and Rebecca was the president of the Clarendon Alliance. David quickly said his sister did most of the work on getting the ball rolling.
“People were pretty into it,” Rebecca Tax said. “The first one was so successful they just wanted to keep it going.”
Hussmann said a number of first-time participants — including Krewe de Poisson Mardi Gras Marching & Social Club, Yelp Northern Virginia, the Fog Party, Fiat of Alexandria, Yorktown Yahoos, National Capital Area Cake Show and Cupcake Challenge, and North Kensington Street Builders — are involved this year.
The alliance would probably have to pay about $8,000 for security and other expenses this year. The parade draws thousands annually and Hussman said this year should be entertaining.
“It’s quite a local collection of businesses and local groups,” Hussmann said. “Everyone has a good time here.”
Though they haven’t participated much in the parade since moving to Falls Church, the Tax siblings say they have great memories of their early days in it. Watching how the parade has grown over the years, David said it has made him smile.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I’m proud to have started a Clarendon tradition.”
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