Fans to give Ragin’ Cajuns a hearty send-off for New Orleans Bowl _lowres

Advocate file photo by Brad Kemp -- Cajun fans march down Bourbon Street during the 2013 Ragin’ Cajuns Parade. The 2014 parade will be held Thursday.

With the Ragin’ Cajuns headed to their fourth straight R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Dec. 20, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and its athletics department are planning on sending them off with a bang.

Topping off the events will be Tuesday’s Cajun Walk, the official send-off for fans to say goodbye to the football team before it hits Interstate 10. Local food trucks will be in the area to serve fans lunch. The event will kick off on Reinhardt Drive near M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at 11 a.m. and will end at 2 p.m.

On Thursday, The Pride of Acadiana Marching Band will hoof it down Bourbon Street with Cajuns fans in the Ragin’ Cajuns Parade.

Fans are encouraged to bring Mardi Gras beads to throw to onlookers, and the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission will have extra beads for those wanting to participate. The parade starts at 9 p.m. at the New Orleans Marriott.

On Friday, the Marriott will host the Ragin’ Cajun Fan Fest from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The reception, hosted in the Marriott’s grand ballroom, will be free for all Cajuns fans. Live music will be provided by Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie. There will be a cash bar and a graduation ceremony for senior student-athletes and support staff.

An hour after the Fan Fest, the festivities will move to Champions Square, where a free concert featuring Kool and the Gang and Cheap Trick will be held for fans of both teams. The concert will last until 10 p.m.

On Saturday, a pregame party will be hosted from 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. at Champions Square, where a local disc jockey will play music as the gates open at 8:30 a.m.

The Cajuns will face the Nevada Wolf Pack in the 14th annual New Orleans Bowl at 10 a.m. Saturday, the first meeting between the two teams since 1995.

Nevada is led by quarterback Cody Fajardo, who is one of only two players in FBS (formerly known as the NCAA’s Division 1-A) history with 9,000 passing and 3,000 rushing yards. Fajardo led his team rushing yards with 997 and 13 touchdowns.

He also threw for 2,374 yards, 18 touchdowns through the air and 11 interceptions this season. Fajardo averages 6.1 yards a carry.

“They’re an outstanding team. They can run it, they can throw it and they play good defense,” said Ragin’ Cajuns head football coach Mark Hudspeth. “They are a very multiple team on offense, and they spread the ball a lot of different ways to a lot of different people. He (Fajardo) does a great job in distributing the football.”

Leading the Cajuns will be Sun Belt Player of the Year Elijah McGuire, a sophomore running back with 1,165 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, including four in the game against Arkansas State this season. McGuire has the edge on Fajardo’s yards-per-carry average with 7.8.