Mande Milkshakers officially kicked off Mardi Gras with a their 2nd annual “Meet the Mandes” live dress rehearsal down the Mandeville Lakefront on January 6th.
In one short year the Mande Milkshakers Marching Group has gone from a little group of friends and family who loved to dance and have fun, to a BIG group of friends and family who love to dance so much they just can’t get enough!
To understand the incredible achievements these ladies have made, you need to hear this story.
Mande Milkshakers was conceived many moons ago when our fearless leader, whom we all call “Big Red”, saw a marching group at a parade in New Orleans and she thought…Hmmm…I live in Mandeville….Mandeville has lots of housewives…..Wouldn’t it be fun if we had a marching group of Housewives?
Fast forward a few years, a chance gathering of four friends sparked the energy needed to get this idea rolling. Although simply a coincidence, the very first correspondence related to the founding of the group took place on August 1, 2016 which happened to be National Milkshake Day and served as perhaps the first hint that there may be divine intervention at work with this group. Without the knowledge that a National Milkshake Day even existed, our founders called us the “Mande Milkshakers!”
By January of 2017, the group had grown to about 30 ladies who enjoyed hanging out and learning some dance routines. With their eyes on taking a year to perfect everything and to be ready to roll in 2018, the ladies just shimmied along at weekly gatherings.
Believe it or not, there are no instruction manuals on how to start a marching group or even how to get involved in marching in parades. One day “Big Red” said….Let me call some of the Krewes to find out how we get invited to march in their parade. To our surprise, one of the Krewes said…How about this year!!!?
WHAT???? OK, we can do that. All we need is a costume, routines, a truck, and a D.J. We can pull this off in 3 weeks, right?! Yep, about 3 weeks. The 30 ladies ordered costumes, wigs, and sunglasses off Amazon (thank goodness for Prime!) and before long we were ready to go.
The wigs and glasses were important for all the first time shakers in sexy dresses because what if any of our friends saw us along the parade route…oh horrors! It would take some time to get used to the idea of putting yourself out there and for many of the ladies, myself included, it took all my bravery to execute a scantily clad shimmy in front of people I knew.
Meanwhile, the ladies gave serious thought to what they wanted the group to ultimately be. Fun (of course); Friendship (because friendship is what gets us through life); Fitness (no excuses!) and last and most important, Philanthropy. The ladies chose Miracle League Northshore as their dedicated Charity for their first year.
Continuing to practice and learn their routines, they soon realized they had no idea if the routines were march-able or if the costumes would work, thus the very first Mande Milkshakers Live Dress Rehearsal was born. The City of Mandeville embraced the ladies and allowed them to march down Lakeshore Drive on the way to a local restaurant where they topped off the day with a fundraiser for their chosen charity.
The nervousness, butterflies, and jitters all disappeared however the moment we took our first steps on Lakeshore Drive that beautiful Saturday in January. I knew in that moment, I was living out loud. I can not begin to explain the exhilaration I felt dancing and interacting with the crowds, cameras, and cheers. I felt like a teenager again with all the excitement. You’d be surprised how quickly a parade goes by when you you’re have some of the most fun in your life.
The “Parade Bug” bit every Mande and the ladies just couldn’t get enough. Every chance they had, they marched. The fun shined through everyone’s faces and by the end of the Parade Season, there were over 100 inquiries from ladies asking how to join the group.
January 6, 2018, our newest Mande Milkshakers experienced their very first Mardi Gras Live Dress Rehearsal down the Mandeville Lakefront. It was an incredible experience to see a sea of Red and White Polka Dots laughing, dancing, and simply having fun as they shimmied down the steet to some of their favorite songs.
This year the Mande Milkshakers have a full schedule of parades spanning the North and South shores of the Lake. The group is very excited to be included in their first New Orleans Parade!
Be sure to “#Spot the Dots” this year as The Mande Milkshakers continue to Shake their stuff this Mardi Gras. The Mande parade schedule can be located on our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/Mandemilkshakers or on our website www.mandemilkshakers.wordpress.com