Krewe De Columbi-Ya-Ya Kaptains Tom Hall and Kristian Niemi on parades, the blues and beheadings


With Mardi Gras Columbia a mere 2 days away, Kristian Niemi can barely contain his excitement.

“The parade! The bands! The food! The drunken shenanigans!” said Niemi. “Dress for the occasion—the crazier the better!”

Niemi, along with Tom Hall, Emile Defelice and Eric McClam, are the original “Kaptains” of the Krewe De Columbi-Ya-Ya, who organized Mardi Gras Columbia parades and festival the past two years. This will be the third annual Mardi Gras Columbia organized by the Krewe.

The first Mardi Gras Columbia, raised money for Wil-Moore Farms after a fire destroyed their barn. Organized in 3 weeks, the 2011 Mardi Gras Columbia managed to raise $2500. Last year’s Mardi Gras Columbia had an even bigger turnout, attracting over 4,000 people and raising money for the Animal Mission of the Midlands.

This year, the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya will again raise funds for the Animal Mission through a pet parade.

“Fortunately, no local farmers have had losses,” said Tom Hall. “Also, an animal parade is fun.”

“We're all animal lovers and we like the idea of people dressing their dogs up for the parade,” said Niemi. “Soni [Jim Sonefeld, president of Animal Mission] is a good friend and they needed another fund-raising avenue, so it was a natural fit.”

Registration for the pet parade, which costs $5, begins at 10 a.m. at City Roots. Pet owners walking in the pet parade are encouraged to dress up their pets in the best Mardi Gras attire. Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed pups.

The pet parade will be led by King Bud Ferillo and Danielle Howle, as well as Grand Marshall Larry Hembree, managing director of the Trustus Theater.

Hall said he is “looking forward to the coronation of the new King and Queen during the parade, which will be presided over by Drink Small. Born in Bishopville, S.C., “Blues Doctor” Drink Small has sung dirty blues and gospel music for nearly 6 decades. Drink Small will also perform live during the festival.

Last week, King Bud Ferillo jokingly called for Hall’s decapitation should he fail to deliver during his musical performance with the Plowboys. Hall responded to His Majesty’s threat:

“I cannot let down the King, so if I don’t kick ass, I deserve beheading. I hope my kids aren’t there then.”