Catching a parade isn’t always possible for some people with disabilities, but thanks to a local organization, accessibility is becoming less of an issue.

Backed by Touro Synagogue and developed by congregants Dr. Juan Gershanik and Hal Shepard, the annual Krewe of VIPs is a community initiative that offers free, wheelchair-accessible parade stands and a proper Mardi Gras ball for children and adults with disabilities.

“It’s been a great experience working with this wonderful group of children and their families,” Dr. Gershanik says. “It gives us a great deal of satisfaction to be able to offer them some events that help highlight their pursuit of happiness.”

Parade Stands

The parade stands offer a safe place to watch the parades and include bathroom access, a sensory “breakroom,” and refreshments. Reservations for one child and one chaperone are allowed. Other family members are welcomed to enjoy the parade from the street.

The parade stands are available for the Pontchartrain, Choctaw, and Freret parades on February 15; the Babylon, Chaos, and Muses parades on February 20; and the Iris and Tucks parade on February 22.

Royal Ball

For the first time in its 10-year history, the Krewe of VIPs is hosting a free royal ball for children and adults with disabilities. Children will have the opportunity to feel like kings and queens decked out in festive attire, waited on at the royal banquet, and entertained with music, dancing, and games. Family members are also invited.

The Krewe of VIP Royal Ball for People with Disabilities will be held at 2:30–5 pm, March 15, at the Touro Synagogue, 4238 St. Charles Ave.

Reservations for the parade stand’s and the royal ball can be made by contacting Dr. Gershanik at 504-896-2229.