The Ebola virus, endangered butterflies, and the North Korea Happy Hackers were among highlights of the satirical romp that filled the streets of Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood for the 33rd annual King Mango Strut on Sunday, December 28, 2014. Bright sun and the promise of mirth attracted thousands of viewers to the parade route through the Grove’s commercial center.
The Strut began with the traditional dropping of the ceremonial banana, but in an untraditional way. Ebola infection-control workers hung the banana from a strip of yellow Caution tape at the end of a long pole, lowered it gingerly to the ground, and pronounced it contaminated. Then the hazmat-suited workers circulated through the crowd, searching for Ebola victims and liberally squirting disinfectant.
As always, the first float was a Shell Lumber flatbed truck full of Little Miss Mango Pageant winners (everyone who entered).
Unlike last year, when national politics took center stage, President Obama and his Congressional critics all managed to avoid the Strutters’ jibes. Not so lucky were Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, who tried and failed to regain the job last November. In the parade, they reprised the fall election with a pillow fight in the middle of Main Highway.
Butterflies battle back
Behind a banner that read Pine Rockland Butterflies Battle Back, a large flock of winged Sierra Club members portrayed endangered butterflies flinging nets over real-estate developers. The hapless developers want to build a shopping center in an endangered ecosystem that they bought last summer from the University of Miami, which also was sniped at in the skit.
The North Korea Happy Hackers appeared, featuring an SUV decked out like a rolling Sony computer keyboard, and Kim Jong Un marching with his North Korea I.T. Department.
New this year was the St. Andrews Pipe Band, followed by St. Patrick, clad in emerald-green robes. He chased the snakes out of Ireland and was accompanied by giant snails that he is now chasing out of Miami.
Other new participants included a group of Protesters Against Protests, the Coconut Grove Drum Circle, and a pair of aliens wearing green tutus and carrying the missing Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished on March 8, 2014.
The local Hare Krishna contingent has appeared in the Strut every year since it began in 1982. New to the Hare Krishna contingent was the Hindu god Krishna (portrayed by a young woman with blue face paint and a flute, riding in the bed of a pickup truck).
Other long-time Strutters included The Marching Freds (accompanied by widows and friends of some now-dead Freds who marched in previous Struts), the running of the bullshitters, and the New Orleans Funeral Marching Band.
Bands participating in the parade were Mr. Nice Guy, Iko-Iko, Last Call for Tobacco Road, The Memphis Kelly Band, and School of Rock. Afterwards, the bands performed until nightfall in the heart of the Grove, while restaurants, art galleries, and other businesses welcomed the parade-goers.
Video of the parade was live-streamed online at where it will be archived for future viewing.
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