King Mango Strut Parade Celebrates 40 Years of Bohemia

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, during the last week of the NFL season, with a million other things to do, one of the coolest Miami events of the year occurred in sweet, old Coconut Grove: the King Mango Strut Parade.

The King Mango Strut is an annual satirical parade kicking-off the new year by mocking the previous year. About 10,000 people attend. They line the streets of the Grove and watch as dozens of floats and hundreds of characters march by, dressed in costumes, often poking fun of local and national politics and other local social issues.

This year our friend local comedian Freddy Stebbins was the parade’s MC.

The King Mango Strut with all its splendor and costume and music and drinking and flair, in many ways, is like our Mardi Gras, or better said, a Miami-Gras.

The uber liberal and libertarian theme of the parade exalts all that is Miami weird.

But political satire is sort of the gist.

This year’s biggest punching bag: Governor Ron Desantis. Because, duh.

Several skits or acts or floats poked fun at the wannabe authoritarian who attacked basically everyone last year, from Disney to gays to books to you-name-it. So the parade had a Ron walking around in love with a transsexual.

Another Ron dressed as Frank-n-Furter from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A group of kids held up signs protesting banned books as adults dressed as books, an older woman in a Handmaid’s Tale box, another in a cardboard Diary of Anne Frank .

Obviously a lot of Trump and Joe Carollo bashing occurred.

And a bunch of floats promoted environmental issues and Miami’s biggest social issue: affordability.

King Mango Strut parade

The parade isn’t all politics. Not at all. There are tons of wacky non sequitur pop culture references: a Mork and Mindy, aliens on skateboards, a parade of dancing Barbie’s featuring a Ken (who used to be a City Commissioner), Travis Kelcie and Taylor Swift, pirates and fairy’s and jugglers and mystics. Reprobates and mermaids and witch hunts and band camps.

Tricycles and jugglers and mermaids and marching sycamore trees.

The Running of the Bull-shitters lapped the parade 8 times carrying flags with beer steins.

Marching bands and Elvis’s and beatnik Hemingway’s and most of all: music.

Sweet music.

This family friendly event is basically about music and dancing in the street.

At the end of the day, the King Mango Strut is a celebration of Miami’s most bohemian neighborhood: Coconut Grove. And those bohemian nuts are very much still alive. Most don’t know Coconut Grove was the epicenter of American protest and counterculture in the 1960s, very much akin to the East Village of Manhattan.

If you can get past the Miami Herald’s paywall, take a look at this year’s pics, as shot by our friend and Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste. Carl also shot a little video if you want to see what the event looks like, but in typical timely Herald form, the video is from last year.

We are not a fan of this vlogger but we did find a full video of this year’s parade.

40 Years of King Mango Strut

Arriving late, as the parade ended, just past the army of Hare Krishna’s walking up 32nd Ave, a beautiful old man in his mid-80’s slowly rode a skinny Schwinn bike. He wore a double-breasted dapper green suit with a matching fedora. You knew he was there. By there, I mean in the Grove, when the Grove was the center of American counterculture.

Upon entering the parade, as it ended, I thought, I want to be that old man.

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J.J. Colagrande

Has written about Miami culture for almost twenty years, first with The Miami Herald, then Miami New Times and Huffington Post. He's the publisher of The Jitney and a full-time professor.