A 35-year tradition in Baton Rouge, the Krewe of Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade seems to get more irreverent as it ages. The Krewe of Partylons is no different.
Joining together in 1998, a group of thespian friends named its new krewe after Mary and Buford Bordelon, who were dubbed Mary and Buford “Partylon” as they frequently entertained large groups spontaneously at their home.
Now remarried, Mary Pittman said that since Buford Bordelon’s death in 2001, the Krewe of Partylons, a group he loved, gives a toast in his honor before each parade. Then, it’s down the route for the celebration, with thousands of screaming patrons hoping to catch a string of disco-ball beads.
Now preparing to ride in the Spanish Town parade for its 17th year, the krewe, best known for its huge disco ball-bedecked float, are ready to take this year’s parade theme, “St. Valentine’s Day Masquerade,” to a new level of raunchy with their “Tainted Love” installment.
Noting the well-known political incorrectness of the parade, Pittman said that she and her krewe will be depicting the “love” between people like Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Bert and Ernie, Kermit and Miss Piggy, Morticia and Gomez Addams and more.
“The tainted love is sort of warped lovers and couples,” Pittman said.
But it isn’t as warped as her krewe has gotten over the years.
They’ve been “The Plank Road Personnel,” portraying pimps and ladies of the evening in accordance with Spanish Town’s 1999 “Leathers and Feathers” theme. They have also been mad scientists as “The Jury-rigging formula for Edwin Edwards.”
And while masking up may be a good time for anyone, what makes the costuming most fun for the krewe is the escape from their day jobs.
Riders, who must be at least 18, work in varying professions, from professor to priest, two architects, a church secretary, a welder, an engineer, a paralegal, a claims adjuster and many more. The variety of careers is also a reason why krewe members rarely see each other outside of their Spanish Town duties.
Pittman said they begin meeting each year just after the SPLL (Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana), the board who facilitates the annual parade, reveals its upcoming theme.
“The planning process is so much fun because we make a party out of everything,” Pittman said.
When the krewe first joined the parade, Pittman said lots of hiring-out was being done to create decorations for the float, but now the Partylons have a graphic designer onboard.
This year’s float will also carry a live DJ to make the disco ball all the more fitting.
Pittman also said the krewe often covers its float and travels with decorations and items to be used as judge-bait, but unfortunately the group has never won any awards at the parade. However, it did snag its first-ever Spanish Town-related win on Jan. 31 for best table decor at the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Ball.
At the end of Mardi Gras season, Pittman said all the decorations are recycled for later use, as the Partylons also ride in the Baton Rouge Halloween Parade.
But, there are never any throws left to save.
“Throws never make it past parade day,” Pittman said, laughing.
Construction along River Road and surrounding areas has created a change in this year’s parade route (see accompanying map). This year’s court is Queen Johanna Smith and Grand Marshal Allen Kirkpatrick. Honorary King is the late Shelby Holmes.