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by Alicia Myers Enloe

DOWNTOWN BATON ROUGE–In front of Louisiana’s majestic State Capitol building, the children of downtown’s McGlynn, Glisson and Mouton law firm excitedly awaited atop the Boudreaux bus float for the start of the 61st Cortana Kiwanis Christmas parade in downtown Baton Rouge.


The Boudreaux Bus, a multi-level float decorated by Sean Flynn and Chris Glisson. The float was originally built for the Spanish Town Parade.


“How much longer before the parade starts, Dad?” 7-year old Alex Mouton yelled down at Benjamin Mouton, one of the firm’s partners delegated to walk alongside the float. “Two more minutes,” came the reply.

The sounds of beating drums coming from behind the Boudreaux Bus added to the children’s mounting excitement. The drummers of McKinnley High School Band, sponsored by the McGlynn firm, tapped out holiday songs as the McKinnley High dancers got in-step and ready for the march.

Unlike many previous parades, the children’s enthusiasm was not in anticipation for viewing the other floats or even filling their own bags with treats; instead, in the true spirit of Christmas, they couldn’t wait to shower the hopeful, cheering crowds with candy, beads, footballs, stuffed animals, cups and toy spears.

For the McGlynn firm, it was their first time to join the parade, and for many of the children, it was their first occasion to ride in one. Looking forward to her first experience, Abigail Kennedy said with a big smile “I’m really excited! I think throwing beads to people will be the most fun.” Most of the other children shared her sentiments.

Georgia Lauve predicted, “I think my favorite thing is going to be that you get to do special things for people.” She added that putting on elf and Santa hats and decorating the float before the parade was also fun.

According to Danny McGlynn, founding partner for the firm, the best spots on the bus-turned-float for throwing were to be reserved for the children.

What is Kiwanis?

While the younger children waited for the parade to start, they pondered the question, “What is Kiwanis?”

Considering for a moment the approximate rhyming sounds, Jakob Wax mused, “Well, it’s not an iguana.”

“I think it may be a type of spear,” offered Jack Morganti.

“A skirt?” guessed Trystan Tate.

“Sounds like something Hawaiian,” added her sister Alayna.

According to information provided at the official Cortana Kiwanis Christmas Parade website, the Kiwanis is a charitable national club whose motto is, “a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.”

The management for the annual Baton Rouge Christmas Parade which has rolled downtown since 1950 was passed to the Cortana Kiwanis club in 2009.

A Story inside The Buzz Cafe

Back at The Buzz Cafe’, a restaurant that occupies the first floor of the McGlynn office which is conveniently located one block from the parade route, McGlynn, Glisson, and Mouton welcomed family, friends, and business associates to an open-house celebration. The festivities included complimentary jambalaya, pictures with Santa, face-painting and a place to rest and relax while waiting for the parade.

Among those waiting at the Buzz were Shelly and Savannah Smith, the mother and sister of the parade’s king, CJ Smith, an engineering major at LSU and an active member of Tigers for Donating Life. CJ’s name was submitted as a candidate for king by Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) because of his training and activism in organ donation awareness..

As the final selection, Shelly said CJ was happy to ride in the parade as king to promote organ donation awareness, especially in honor of Savannah, a 15-year old who is currently in need of a liver donation.

Shelly Smith, mother of both CJ and Savannah said, “We were ecstatic that CJ was chosen to be King and what a wonderful way to be able to share this passion on organ donor awareness.”


King of the Parade, CJ Smith's sister Savannah Smith (far right) and mother, Shelly Smith (far left)

Boudreaux the Bus takes Off

Finally, at 5:30 p.m., just as the moon was exchanging places with the sun and the cold winter chill was setting in, the parade began. Tens of thousands of warmly-dressed people lined the downtown streets waiting for the grandiose holiday procession to come their way.

According to Christmasinbr.org, the procession consisted of 80 floats, marching bands, dancers, and walking troups.

Like little Christmas elves, the children of McGlynn, Glisson, and Mouton responded to the growing cheers and got busy aboard the Boudreaux Bus. Very lively and quick, they reached into the bundles of toys, treats and trinkets to grab and throw the best of surprises. McGlynn noted that the children wanted to throw, and thus threw “like little machine guns.”

The children found ways to increase the crowds’ excitement. Megan Andries grabbed a fluffy, green stuffed-animal frog and dangled it teasingly above the crowd before throwing it.

13-year old John Granier, with a similar technique, enjoyed yelling out, “Do you love me?” and when the reply was a loud and emphatic “Yes!” he allowed the coveted prize to fall into the sea of outstretched hands.

10-year old Brennan Mouton was throwing with one hand and saving a football for a friend with the other. “Son, you can’t throw beads hanging on to a football,” said Ben Mouton.

There was hardly time for anything but trying to make sure the expectant crowd wasn’t disappointed, except for when 5-year old Aidan McGlynn couldn’t resist the boyish urge to suddenly climb the railing on the front top of the float. Fortunately, his sister Riley wasn’t too busy to quickly come to the rescue, and in the blink of an eye, Aidan was safe and everyone was back on task.

After an hour and a half of hustle and bustle, Boudreaux headed slowly towards Florida street to drop the children off at The Buzz where they would enjoy more food, face-painting and friendly chatter.

Reflections after the Parade

With a twinkle in his eye and a nod of agreement, John Morganti of Varsity Title said yes, it was a great time, though he had walked the entire parade. He talked about his significant contribution. “My job was to keep people from being run over by a truck. It was a very important job.”

Chris Glisson, managing partner of the firm and also a designated walker said, “I enjoyed walking because you get to hand stuff to the kids and they get all excited.”

The children wanted to talk more about the parade, so they gathered in a back room and said what they saw and what they enjoyed most. Mostly, they remembered the smiles and cheers of grateful recipients.

Alicen McBride said, “I saw a little girl in a wheelchair and we were all throwing beads at her and she was so happy!” Megan told about throwing an entire bag of stuffed animals to a happy toddler.

Lexi Glisson, daughter of Chris Glisson, noted that at first the night was really cold, but after the parade got started, it wasn’t so bad. 11-year old Joshua Wax remembered seeing three girls from his class at school.

Although at the end of the night the children still weren’t quite sure about Kiwanis, they had certainly lived up to its motto and enjoyed a real experience with the charitable Spirit of Christmas.

**Special thanks to Chris Campbell, Melissa Mouton, Lori Steele and Susie Granier for picture donations.

**Also, special thanks to Lori Steele, Community Educator for LOPA for providing information about organ donation awareness. To sign up for organ donation, please visit www.donatelifela.org.


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