Organizer of the Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party, Catherine Larnon-Trout, wants to draw attention to mental illness and let people know that it is just like any other type of illness and nothing to be scared of. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Mad Hatter’s High Tea for mental health in Maple Ridge

The second annual Mad Hatter’s Parade and Tea Party will take place May 26

High tea and hilarious hats will once again take over Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge for the second annual Mad Hatters Parade and Tea Party.

The event was started to draw attention to mental illness.

“Last year, we just kind of flew by the seat of our pants,” said organizer Catherine Larnon-Trout, founder of the Mad Hatters Foundation. “This year, we have everything down pat. It should be lovely,” she said.

Donations will go to the B.C. Schizophrenia Society and be allocated to programs in the area.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. with hat making and musical instrument making.

“People can come, of course, with hats that they made themselves, because that’s always better,” said Larnon-Trout, adding that there were fabulous hats last year.

Prizes will be handed out for best children’s hat, the best adult hat and the best hat overall.

There will be face painting by the Emerald Pig Theatrical Society and balloon hat making with Dilly the Clown.

Family-friendly interactive children’s entertainment promises to get the little ones moving and shaking.

The hat parade will start at 11:30 a.m., when participants will walk around Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge, then through the Haney Farmer’s Market.

High Tea takes place at noon under the RE/MAX tent in the middle of the park. Once again, the tea party will be sponsored by the Fairmont Hotel, which will provide all the decorations along with a selection of teas and scones, cakes and little sandwiches with no crusts on them.

T’s Once Upon a Tea Leaf will be providing a special Mad Hatter’s iced tea for the tea party.

Last year, around 500 people came out for the event.

“A lot of people were passing through last year, just maybe going for groceries or going to the ACT or the Leisure Centre and they came upon us and sat down and had High Tea with the people who were there and found that they were sitting next to somebody who perhaps had a mental illness,” said Larnon-Trout, explaining that talking about mental illness is so important.

“It’s sort of the last big stigma. We need to help people understand that it is just an illness like diabetes or like cancer or heart disease. It’s just another type of illness and it’s nothing to be scared of,” she said.

“That’s what we want to do with the tea party, in particular, is have tea and conversation about mental illness,” she added.

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The hat parade at the inaugural Mad Hatter’s Parade and Tea Party in Memorial Peace Park last year. (THE NEWS/files)

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