Costumed revelers will take to the streets Saturday, February 21st, for the Seventh Annual Venice Mardi Gras Parade.

The parade is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. at Rose Avenue and the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

Critical Brass, a New Orleans-style brass band will lead the parade of costumed participants, followed by the Krewe of Grandview, a group of artists,

musicians, and costumed bead-throwing revelers from Venice

Mar Vista and Santa Monica.

Among the others joining the parade are the Mardi Gras Drum Tribe, the Stilt Circus of Los Angeles, stilt walkers and

hula-hoop dancers. The theme of this year’s parade is “Shangri-La-La,” an expression of optimism and utopia combined with beauty and exoticism, event organizers said.

The parade is open to people of all ages and admission is free.

The Westside Drill Team and Drum Squad, comprised of boys and girls aged five to 18 from South Central Los Angeles, is among the special guests at this year’s event. Westside Drill Team founder and facilitator Rochelle Johnson created the nonprofit program to give youths from Watts, Compton and Inglewood a positive after-school experience. The team plans to compete in Las Vegas the following weekend.

Other special guests who will take part in the procession are the

skateboarding students from the Free LA Charter School in Inglewood, a program of the Youth Justice Coalition, which helps students earn their high school diplomas.

The celebrants will proceed south from Rose Avenue to Windward Avenue, throwing beads to spectators, and will then stroll to the Venice Bistro at 323 Ocean Front Walk. The celebration continues at the Venice Bistro with the Mardi Gras funk band “The Gumbo Brothers” and other musical acts from 2 to 4 p.m.

Members of the Krewe of Grandview say that the Mardi Gras parade in Venice Beach has become a significant local event that continues the tradition of Carnival that began in Venice, Italy hundreds of years ago as a celebration preceding the Catholic season of Lent.

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