Category Archives: Holiday Celebrations in Florida

King Mango Strut in Coconut Grove

Bring Your Enthusiasm and Sense of Humor to King Mango Strut in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida

King Mango Strut is an annual event held in Coconut Grove, Florida on the last Sunday of the year. Since its beginnings in 1982 as a poke in the ribs to the Orange Bowl’s King Orange Jamboree Parade organizers who snubbed The Mango Marching Band. For some odd reason, they didn’t have any use for a couple of Grove residents who used kazoos and other eclectic “music makers” to entertain the crowd as they marched along wearing conch shells on their heads.

In retaliation, the King Mango Strut was born. Turning bitterness to laughter, King Mango Strut is no ordinary parade. Instead, it offers participants and onlookers an irreverent tongue-in-cheek review of newsworthy events of the past year. Oftentimes described as “the weirdest parade in the universe”, its participants vow to “put the NUT back in Coconut Grove”. Be sure to bring your sense of humor to this event, because boundaries of good taste are oftentimes tested!

If you visit Florida this year, and you are in the metro Miami area, don’t miss the 32nd annual King Mango Strut held on December 29th. The parade starts at 2 PM (come early for a good seat) and the “After-Strut-Party” continues until 6 PM in Commodore Plaza. It’ll be quite a party.

The good citizens of Coconut Grove know how to celebrate (photo courtesy of Michael Wayne Cole studio).There’s something here to appeal to every sense of humor, from political (Michael Wayne Cole studio) to protest (photo courtesy of, whether complaint (photo courtesy of Michael Wayne Cole studio), environmental concern (photo courtesy of Michael Wayne Cole studio) or personal entreaty (photo courtesy of

Some of the marching bands, such as the New Orleans Funeral Marching Band, travel some distance to join in the revelry. Others, such as the Grove Jugglers, are local. And if you’ve ever had a longing to be Grand Marshall, you may bid for that honor on ebay.

No mangoes were hurt during the parade? Well, THAT’s a relief!

(photo courtesy of Michael Wayne Cole studio)

If you wish to participate, download the entry form from the King Mango Strut website. Entry is free (however, donations to help defray costs are happily accepted) and there are no other requirements (except safety rules) for qualification to participate. Whether onlooker or participant, if quirky, good-natured fun is for you, come strut your stuff with other zany fun seekers at the King Mango Strut in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida.


Florida May Day Celebrations: 1950s

May Day Celebrations in Florida During the 1950s

It’s May Day. No one really celebrates it anymore. When I was in the 1st grade and again in the 3rd grade, I attended a little country school in Florida. There were two grades to a room and after 8th grade you had to take the bus into the city to go to school. Our bus picked us up at the front gate, engulfed in a dust cloud kicked up off the dirt road by the big tires. After a hard rain, the road would have ridges like a washboard until the county came through to grade again, making bus rides during those times particularly jarring.

By the time we arrived at the wood schoolhouse, we were packed in, 3 to a school bus seat large enough for two adults. We wore shorts and were allowed to attend school barefoot, which I found gloriously liberating in comparison to schooling in the Boston area.

My third grade teacher stuck up for me when the kids laughed because I didn’t know what a gopher was, saying we were both right…it WAS a brown, furry rodent like I said and it WAS a land turtle like the Betts boy said. That’s when my cousin Shelly and I did our best head toss and walked off, refusing to give any more time to such a dumb boy. All he was good for was playing a guitar.

In April, our teacher announced that we would be having a May Day celebration and she would teach us to dance around a May Pole.

We walked out to the schoolyard and a pole with many beautiful colored ribbons attached to it. In a few minutes, we would take a ribbon that was attached to the pole. For now, they were secured at the bottom to keep them from tangling but the breeze made them flutter in the middle. We were told to stand in a circle around the pole, boy/girl/boy/girl. When the music started, we joined hands and stepped to the center, then took our assigned streamer in our right hand and returned to the outside of the circle. We were then told to turn and face our neighbor to the right.

The boys took one step to the outside, the girls, a step to the inside. The teachers explained that we would weave the ribbons by walking, girls clockwise, boys, counterclockwise, lifting and lowering our ribbons so that they would weave over and under. I would hold my ribbon up so I could go over the streamer of the first boy, then duck down and walk under the ribbon of the next boy. The boys reversed the routine. As we circled the pole, our ribbons would wind around, covering more and more of the pole as our ribbons grew shorter. It took many practices to get it right, but on the big day, when the music started and we danced the Maypole Dance, those ribbons wound around perfectly and in the end, we had a very colorful pole.

Years later, I would learn of the pagan origins of the Maypole celebration and had a good laugh. I take the same stand on Maypole dancing as I do on trick or treating or hanging Christmas decorations: it’s all in the intention.