The 20th Annual Mardi Paws Dog Parade, starring both dogs and human companions in appropriate costumes, was held on March 9th. Ian Somerhalder served as the Celebrity Monarch while ISF served as one of this year’s sponsors.
Mardi Paws is an annual fundraiser held for three non-profits comprised of all volunteers in the Mandeville area. One of this year’s non-profits was St. Tammany Spay and Neuter Program, which provides low cost spay/neutering services for rescue animals and low-income households. 1
Jessica Olivier, ISF’s Creatures Division Director, was on hand and had this to say about the day’s festivities:
“The perfect day in Mandeville, Louisiana: sun sparkling across Lake Pontchatrain, a cool breeze sailing over the warm springtime sun, and nearly a full mile packed with hundreds of happy canines and their loving companions. With thousands of cheering, supportive attendees lining the parade route--it was time to get this show on the road!
Just a week prior, Ian reigned as Grand Marshall for the Krewe of Endyminon Parade for Mardi Gras. While that was the honor of a lifetime and a dream come true for Ian, I secretly think he was even more ecstatic to be merrily tossing beads down a parade route that was filled with wagging tails and countless, devoted animal lovers--the 20th's annual Mystic Krewe of Mardi PAWS dog parade. As the newly appointed Director for the Creatures Division for the IS Foundation, I was in my own personal euphoria as well.
Something truly magical occurs when animal lovers unite: the ethereal presence of the animal spirit mingles with the impassioned creature-lover's desire to protect all forms of life. What might appear just a parade to outside onlookers is, instead, a powerful march with a rhythm built on resonating compassion. As we joyously and effervescently took over the streets, ablaze with an infinite supply of respect and love for our four-legged (or three-legged!) friends, we intertwined our strength to a cause we whole-heartedly support.
Changemakers connected from all across the country in support of Have a Heart thru Art, Scott's Wish, The St. Tammany Spay/Neuter Program, and the IS Foundation. The support and love that washed over us from all those who attended is something we will never forget.
We even got to meet Emily Whitehead, the Grand Marshal, for the parade. A future veterinarian and an absolute fighter, Emily is a living demonstration of all the mass potential youth has when ignited with passion to see healing and change.
And after all of the empowerment, tail wagging, bead throwing, and barking good times, we had pizza from McClain's Pizzeria! Now THAT is how you celebrate a fantastic parade and refuel to celebrate more of the vast and diverse life we share this planet with.
We cannot thank Denise Gutnisky enough for putting together such a spectacular event and for inviting us to an afternoon we will certainly never forget. Our tails are still wagging.”
You can learn more about Mardi Paws on their website, http://www.mardipaws.com/
***photos provided by Jessica Olivier***