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Mad hats for mental health

The inaugural Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party takes place on May 27.
Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS Catherine Larnon-Trout decorates a plastic top hat as she gears up for the first Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party in support of mental health.

A Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party will take place on Saturday in support of mental health.

“It’s bringing attention to the fact that mentally ill people have little money and no resources, that we need much more than we have in comparison to other illnesses,” said Catherine Larnon-Trout, founder of the Mad Hatters Foundation.

“I decided instead of banging the door of Fraser Health or the government trying to get money, we need to do it ourselves,” she said.

People are invited to don their craziest hats or make their own at the free event and parade around Memorial Peace Park.

Larnon-Trout has purchased plastic top hats that participants can decorate with donated materials, buttons and bows.

The party will start at 10 a.m. with live music, hat making, balloon hat making and face painting.

The parade will take place at 11:30 a.m., followed by the tea party.

The Fairmont Hotel will be supplying finger sandwiches, scones and tarts and serving the tea, which will be under tents by the bandstand.

Europe Bakery will be supplying top hat cookies.

There will be a hinged white wall with hooks where people can post messages of why they are participating in the parade.

Larnon-Trout started the foundation after trying to find housing for her own son who is mentally ill.

“A couple of months ago I was trying to find him housing here in Maple Ridge and I couldn’t find anything that was suitable. It was terrible,” she said.

So Larnon-Trout started to look at buying a house herself.

“I put in a bid on a house on the outskirts of Maple Ridge and I was going to start some sort of housing. Then it kind of went in different directions and this is where it ended up,” she said.

Larnon-Trout is hoping to grow the foundation beyond the borders of Maple Ridge.

She wants to change the face of mental illness because she believes that most people get misinformation about it from unreliable sources.

“I want to say that it is all of us. It’s families, it’s moms, dads, everybody,” she said.

But she also wanted to put on something that was outragious, ridiculous and fun.

“People have a huge stigma when it comes to mental illness,” said Larnon-Trout.

“The fact that we all have crazy hats on, nobody is going to know who is crazy.”

• The Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party takes place between 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on May 27 in Memorial Peace Park, downtown Maple Ridge.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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