PLAQUEMINE – Pre-schoolers from around the parish ascended on Railroad Avenue midday Friday to participate in the 28th Annual Gray Monkey Children's Parade.

The parade is sponsored by the Iberville Parish Library and held each year during National Library Week.

"Each pre-school or daycare chooses their own theme and decorates their floats according to it," Head Children's Librarian Anne Reeves said. "Some are very extravagant."

Reeves, who is retiring and participated in the parade for the last time, said the only stipulation is that no motorized vehicles are allowed.

"Every pre-schooler in Iberville Parish is invited to participate and they make their own floats," Reeves said.

The story of the Gray Monkey Parade begins in 1946 when Plaquemine kindergarten teacher Lolita Daigre purchased two plush toy monkeys in the French Quarter.

The pair, Gray and Brownie, were married in New Orleans' City Park and eventually had a baby, Koko.

"She found out the gestation period when monkeys have babies," Reeves said. "She kept them in her classroom to watch the kids so they wouldn't misbehave."

Each year a parade was held that the monkey family reigned over during Mardi Gras.

"I don't know when it stopped but in 1984, her family donated the monkeys to the Iberville Parish Library," Reeves said.

The following year the parade was revived. It was held on Library Boulevard and used to promote the library's summer reading theme.

"We always announce our summer reaching theme during the parade," Reeves said. "This year it is 'Dig into Reading."

Three years ago, the parade grew too large and returned to Railroad Avenue, the site of the first parade.

"This is the original place so we have come back to our roots," Reeves said.