Addison Barker knew that Friday morning was no ordinary day. Excited to meet her favorite princess, she dressed to impress with her own personal choice of clothing, said her father, Jim Barker.
"She loves Tiana, and always watches the cartoons,” he said. “All morning she was asking me when she was going to meet Tiana. She’s hoping to see her at Disneyland later tonight, too.”
Addison was just one of fifteen anxious toddlers who attended Lake Forest’s Princess Tiana Mardi Gras Dreams Preschool Party on Friday morning at City Hall.
It's the second year that a special event has been hosted in lieu of the Community Center's traditional art class. Staff decorated the party room with an array of purple and green streamers and scattered Mardi Gras beads across the tables arranged in the room. Most of the costumes and props were recycled from Bunny Blast, said Melissa Alves, a city staffer.
“We already had most of the costumes, so when it came time to plan a party for the preschoolers, it seemed like it would be something fun for the kids,” she said. “Who doesn’t love Mardi Gras and Princess Tiana?”
Two-year-old Nina, a regular to the city’s art classes who attends every Friday, also picked out an outfit to match the occasion. Nina's babysitter, Shahin Ferdavsi, said the toddler chose her own princess get-up: a royal purple dress, its lace trim nearly touching the ground.
“This is a good class,” added Ferdavsi. “She loves the art classes, and Princess Tiana is her favorite [character]. She picked her dress out beforehand.”
As the day progressed, dresses could be seen twirling as toddlers danced to parade music with Tiana at the head of the procession. The art class also gave the preschoolers the chance to make their own Mardi Gras mask, complete with glitter, feathers, and paint.
“Look at my mask,” said Nina with a smile to one of the staff members, holding up the mask in front of her face.
Addison is a regular, too. Her family, who has lived in Lake Forest for four years, started bringing her to the class more than a year ago.
“She loves these classes,” said Jim Barker. “We bring her to the princess ballet class, and the music class, and this class.”
Having worked with the city for more than three years now, staff member Brittney Drake’s favorite part of the job is watching the children mature, she said on Friday.
“Since most of the kids are regulars, we get to see them grow up,” Drake said. “We really get to know each of them.”
Between the parade, dancing, and a game of pinning the lips on the frog—the Disney version of pin the tail on the donkey—staffers said the party was a success.
“They all seemed to have a lot of fun,” Drake added with a smile, dressed in her New Orleans style attire. “The kids love these classes.”