This blogpost was guest written by Coky Michel, Mary-Joe Castells, Chris Castro and Andrea Cuccaro, 1SkyFlorida's Organizer (a program of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy).Guest Blog | January 31, 2011
Every year on the Sunday following Christmas Day, South Floridians gather in the heart of Coconut Grove to celebrate the parade known as the King Mango Strut. The strut is a wacky, satirical, no-holds bar parade that showcases the year’s most controversial stories in a fun, lighthearted manner. Months of preparation and anticipation go into each performance, creating an almost theater-like quality to the parade. Among the top stories showcased in 2010 were the Chilean miners, New York bedbugs, and, of course, the BP oil disaster.
The King Mango Strut began 30 years ago, when a few people tried to get a kazoo band in the famous Orange Bowl Parade. After they were refused, they decided to start their own parade, which has actually outlasted the Orange Bowl one.
In 2009, 1Sky Florida activists joined the parade via Emerge Miami, an organization that encourages emerging progressive activism in the Miami area. In that parade, activists participated as climate cheerleaders. When handed the announcer’s microphone, one of our activists demanded to know from the crowd, “Are scantily clad cheerleaders the only way we can get you to pay attention to climate change?!” With a dozen cheerleaders with coordinated dance moves, and even a pyramid, we yelled radical chants like “Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell- make our planet hot as Hell. Solar power, wind and wave, keep our planet nice and safe! Go green power!”
In 2010, 1Sky Florida activists and allies from IDEAS (Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions) partnered with The Miami Sierra Club group to support their act. A dynamic group of youth leaders founded in Florida in 2008, IDEAS came out with a bold mission to educate, empower, and engage others in this movement of environmental sustainability through projects that focused on Research, Action and Environmental Awareness.
On December 26th, 2010, these allied organizations joined thirty-six Sierra Club members as the club opened “The Sierra Club B.P. Cafe”, where cooks, waiters and waitresses in full garb served the public large trays of delicious seafood dishes from the Gulf, all covered in an appetizing black gook. Some of these were: “Oilsters Rockefeller”, “Lobster Tar-midor”, “Seafood Casseroil”, “Gunk Fritters,” “Tuna Tar-tare,” “Blackened Shrimp,” “Pompano Oilmandine,” “Clams Oileganata,” and other equally sumptuous entrees. Cocktail waitresses offered Black Martinis, and a few caring Sierrans used baby bottles to feed nourishing oil from an oil rig to inflatable fish. “B.P. Commemorative Tar Balls” were thrown to the enthusiastic audience, while a professional juggler mesmerized the public with her “tar ball juggling” routine.
All the while, two “Sherlock Holmes” with capes, hats, pipes and magnifying glasses, searched for oil in the audience. Accompanying signs read: “WHERE DID IT ALL GO?”, and “OILEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON!” A volunteer dressed as Tony Hayward brought up the rear, all dressed up in Russian attire and holding a bottle of vodka, while being held up by two provocative “Russian beauties”. The signs they carried read: “I finally got my life back” and “I love my promotion: CEO, b.p., Russia.” We got laughs from everyone in the crowd.
The crowd loved our group, and so did the press: we were featured in The Miami Herald the following day. In addition, Channel 4 News aired a short clip of us in action. As usual, there was a lot of hard work involved, but we had a blast. It took a lot of great orchestrating and planning on the part of Sierra Club organizers to make our King Mango Strut entry a huge success! In particular, the show wouldn’t have gone on without coordination and staged practices by Coky Michel.
“This wacky parade provides a way for the Sierra Club to convey important environmental messages to the public in a humorous way. Instead of lecturing about important issues, we make people laugh at them, while having a great time ourselves, said Coky Michel.
Sierra Club Miami has been an incredibly supportive allied group of 1Sky Florida initiatives for climate and clean energy policy over the past year and a half. Sierra Club, IDEAS and 1Sky Florida have all worked together on beach press conferences around the oil spill, Hands Across the Sand rallies, and the 10/10/10 worldwide day of action on climate change. Individuals who are deeply involved with Sierra Club have also attended 1Sky Florida meetups to plan and support actions to support clean energy and carbon reduction solutions and the transition away from coal and oil.
“One of the main objectives, both of the King Mango Strut and what we strive to achieve with IDEAS, is ‘outreach & educational awareness.’ Collectively, our efforts not only had people laughing, but it made them remember the disaster we faced in April 2010 in a creative way and hopefully get them thinking about their personal demand on these fossil fuels.” said Chris Castro, co-Founder of IDEAS.