Mardi Gras in south Louisiana is about more than beads, beer and parties, although there’s certainly plenty of all three of those. For some, it’s also a special time to celebrate tradition with family.
The family aspects of Carnival were evident in the crowds lining the parade routes in Lafayette on Tuesday. Parents held small children aloft on their shoulders, grandparents dressed kids in costumes and others brought friends and family visiting from other states, all looking to scoop up beads, doubloons and trinkets tossed from colorful floats as they made their way through the city.
Tammy O’Conner brought her grandsons Kaeydon, 11, and Hunter, 6, from Ville Platte, all dressed in traditional fringed Mardi Gras costumes, to see a different aspect of Mardi Gras festivities in Lafayette.
“We’re from Ville Platte, so we do the old-time Mardi Gras, too — we chase the chickens,” O’Conner said. “When we chase the chickens, we have a big gumbo afterwards.
Gesturing to the crowd around her on North College Road waiting for the Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade, O’Conner observed: “It’s just different from this.”
She has been bringing her grandchildren since they were 2 years old, O’Conner said, adding that King Gabriel’s Parade, which ran in the morning, was her favorite Lafayette parade.
Kaeydon, wearing beads tossed by krewes participating in King Gabriel’s Parade, said the floats and catching beads was his favorite part of Mardi Gras.
“Kids having fun, that’s what Mardi Gras is about,” O’Conner said.
James Hunt, of Breaux Bridge, also stood along the parade route early Tuesday afternoon, surrounded by friends and family who traveled from New York and Delaware for the festivities.
“I just enjoy watching the people and everybody having good family fun,” Hunt said.
“We come down for family — my wife’s family is all here — and the parades are just part of it,” said Charlie Phillips, of upstate New York, patting his jacket pocket where his camera was waiting. “I’ve been taking pictures of the parades for 15-20 years from when I just started to come here.”
Hunt said his favorite parades of the season were the Krewe of Carnivale en Rio Parade on Jan. 30 and the Youngsville Parade on Saturday.
“It was good to see floats that were locally sponsored,” he said.
Kaye Reeves, a Lafayette native who held her 2-year-old son, Charlie, aloft on her shoulders, also said her favorite parade was the Krewe of Carnivale en Rio because it got her excited for the next week’s festivities.
Her son’s favorite part of the parades was the marching bands.
“Mardi Gras is just one big party,” Reeves said, bouncing Charlie on her shoulders to Carnival music playing nearby.