Organizer of the Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party, Catherine Larnon-Trout, says participants are welcome to bring their own hats or make one at the event on Saturday. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Mad hats and high tea to bring attention to mental illness in Memorial Peace Park

The Mad Hatter’s Parade and Tea Party takes place May 18

The third annual Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party is taking over Memorial Peace Park in an effort to end the stigma of people living with mental illness.

Last year the event quadrupled in size compared to the inaugural year, said organizer Catherine Larnon-Trout, founder of the Mad Hatters Foundation, who believes the party will keep on growing.

Theinaugural event alone had about 500 attendees.

“I think it is just time, people are deciding that they can talk about mental illness where we couldn’t talk about it before,” said Larnon-Trout.

This year the free event will have the same template of the previous two years because Larnon-Trout is hoping to branch out into other communities. She wants to keep the event simple with entertainment, a parade of hats, a tea party at the end and then “everybody happily going home”.

The event runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on May 18 at 11900 224 Street, and will start off with dancing, singing and hat making.

Then there will be the Parade of Hats around the park ending with prizes for the “craziest” looking hats.

At 12:30 p.m. high tea will be served.

This year the Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver has raised their sponsorship from 100 high teas to 250 for 250 people.

They will provide a selection of teas and scones, cakes and little sandwiches with no crusts on them.

Larnon-Trout says that they are getting more and more sponsorships every year.

“It is just time for people to start coming out of the closet, so to speak, and start talking about mental illness like any other illness,” she said.

All donations will go to the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society.

For more information contact Larnon-Trout at 604-308-1949 or at

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