The Mande Milkshakers are so much more than just a women’s dance krewe – it empowers women. We have fun, we make friends and it welcomes our families inside. I love that I can have mommy time, but then also include my husband (Milkman Chris) and my 10-year-old twins Gabby (Mini Mande) and Grayson (Mini Milkman).
My family was excited that I had found something to keep me busy but never imagined that they too would be along for the ride; once that polka-dot bug bit them, they were all in. Gabby was the first to get on board and she became an amazing “Mini Mande”. I was a little concerned because she can be such a tom-boy at times and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get her into a dress, but, she became so excited once I became a Mande that she jumped straight into those polka dots and never looked back. Now, for my sweet boy Grayson is the quiet, shy and reserved one. Never wanting to be in the spot light (unlike his mom and sister). He took a while to warm- up to the idea of being a “Mini Milkman”. The morning of group pictures in January was a complete fight to get him into his Milkman shirt as it would draw attention to him. Not given an option, he reluctantly put on his shirt and we headed off for Mande pictures….and Mom got her way and got her Mande Family pictures.
Once pictures were over, we lined up on the lakefront for the Mande dress rehearsal where we would parade down the lakefront. Grayson was asked to carry the banner with his sister. He surprised me when he agreed to do it. It was at that moment that he too got bit by the Mande bug. Something happened that afternoon in my sweet boy. He marched the entire parade with a smile on his face and never looked back for Chris or me. This was a huge turning point for Grayson. That night at dinner all he could talk about was being a Milkman. His hope that night and still today, is for ‘Wild Bill’ from ‘News with a Twist’ to show up and interview him about the importance of the Milkmen and how much fun he has being a Milkman. That interview hasn’t happened yet but who knows, maybe one day it will.
My husband Chris is by no means an outgoing, in-your-face kind-a-guy…but….he does love participating as a ‘Milkman’. First and foremost he gets to help ensure the safety of his wife as well as all the other ladies out there doing their thing. Secondly, he sees it as a way of exercising and staying fit. Lastly, he knows it makes me happy and allows me to be the ‘social butterfly’ that I am.
Our first parade season with the ‘Mandes’ has come to an end and not only has it been great for mom, it has been a great family experience. When I asked Gabby and Grayson what their favorite things were about the ‘Mandes’ here is what they had to say: Gabby says the parades are a blast. Gabby loves being a Mini Mande and getting to hear the crowds cheer as we come down the road. She also says she loves how each Mande has her own fun personality. Grayson says he loves being a Milkman and carrying the banner during parades. He also says he likes how nice all the ‘Mandes’ are and how energetic they all are. I would have to agree with both my kiddos, these ladies really are amazing.
The Mande Milkshakers…embracing and extending families every day.
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