Village Life

The 2024 King Mango Strut

Rain clouds loomed over the Grove last Sunday, and for a while it looked like the 40th edition of the King Mango Strut might be a bust. Fortunately, the Grove spirit prevailed, the rain was only momentary, and the Strut came roaring back. Some 750 people organized more than 50 parade floats and skits. Thousands of others lined the parade route—Commodore Plaza, Main Highway, and Grand Ave.—to enjoy the fun and hilarity.

The Strut’s first year was 1982. We’re at number 40 because for two Covid years the Strut was on hiatus. Carl Levin, one of the key organizers of the Strut and president of the nonprofit King Mango Productions, says, “The Grove used to have all these community events that brought people together—the bed race, a reggae festival, a food festival. The main things left are the King Mango Strut and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.”
 
Clearly, there’s a commonly felt need for events like the King Mango Strut. Says Levin, “It brings people together. Everybody was so full of joy. It’s important to put a smile on everybody’s face, especially in this day and age, with wars and politics going crazy. It’s an opportunity for people to go out and have fun with their neighbors.”
 
For Grovites, one of the most encouraging aspects of this year’s King Mango Strut is the participation of a new generation of leaders and organizers. Although many of the originators of the Strut were on hand last Sunday (most notably, emcee Nathan Kurland), the main organizers were a group of younger Grovites. In addition to Carl Levin, the key organizers were Jeremy Calleros Gauger, Nathan Kurland, Sam Burritt, Michael Brown, Mike Lucas, Stephanie Kepley, Jill Adams, Camille Marchese, Howard Spiegel, and Stephanie Fernandez.
 
The King Mango Strut is, among other things, a colossal photo op. In the Spotlight’s judgment, the hands-down winner of the photo op spectacular is local bicycling activist and photographer Chiara Manton. You can view her outstanding gallery of Strut photos on her Facebook page.


There will be a wrap party for this year’s King Mango Strut, open to the public, toward the end of the month. The Spotlight will announce the date, time, and location as soon as they’re available. Meanwhile, to learn more about the King Mango Strut, go to their website.

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