On the corner of Main and New Roads streets, where the frigid wind carried the scent from a stand proclaiming its "Cajun Shrimp Explosion," 2-year-old Soleil Champney sat propped against the barrier in her stroller.
She knew she was waiting for something to start, evident by her peering around and tugging on her mom’s pant leg, but the pre-parade route didn’t give much indication of what was to come for little eyes that don’t yet know to look for signs like police motorcycles or cotton candy salesmen to signal the action’s about to start.
Elementary-aged kids surrounded her, strategizing about how far apart to distance themselves in the crowd to maximize candy collection. Teenagers posed for selfies and were nonchalant as they placed themselves by TV news trucks hoping for their five minutes of fame.
Adults boasted bright Mardi Gras attire, propping before-noon beers up to their purple-and-green painted faces to partake in the revelry.
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The 11 a.m. Community Center Carnival parade is one of two in New Roads that draws thousands of spectators to the small Pointe Coupee city each year. It’s one of the oldest in Louisiana outside of New Orleans, and one of the few that rolls on Tuesday.
It’s marketed as a more family-friendly affair than it’s bigger city cousins, a selling point evident Tuesday as kids were let to run free down the main drag to huddle along the route.
The image would be somewhat marred by Tuesday afternoon, when Pointe Coupee Sheriff's Office deputies began investigating reports of shots fired just off the Lion's Club parade route following the parade. Sheriff Bud Torres said after the initial investigation there appear to be no victims, suspect or motive.
He said it's unfortunate the shooting happened after the parade, but it's not unusual given so many public events are subject to violence in today's age. The parades otherwise ran smoothly, he said.
Older ladies from the community will spend days hand-crafting yellow referee flags as throws. Police will gather and donate their time to ensu…
Robert Champney, Soleil’s dad, said he and the family try to attend at least one parade each year so his kids, Soleil and her two siblings, Stephan, 12, and Sophia, 7, get the Mardi Gras experience.
“She was shy at the beginning but by the end, when she figured out people were throwing stuff for her, she caught on,” Champney said of his youngest daughter’s first parade experience.
“Usually you get the little trinkets or beads but here they have stuffed animals and games they’re handing out, so the kids love it,” he said.
The Community Center Carnival parade was followed by an equally loud and energetic Lion’s Club parade at 2 p.m. that saw community groups, high school bands and krewes snake through the streets.
The parades themselves otherwise ran smoothly. Kids appeared most interested in how much loot they could collect.
Annie Grace Laperouse, 9, regrouped between parades in her family’s truck parked on a shady Main Street. She sat with her friends going through their haul before they emptied their throw bags for another round.
“The two best ways to collect beads are to look people in the eye and ask for what you want and to also to say that it’s your birthday,” she said smiling, the latter suggestion a tip she’d been handed down from a family friend, according to her mom.
By late afternoon when the temperature had finally crested above 50 degrees and the kids had worn off their sugar high, the city streets were cleaned and returned to their normal slow pace.
And so ends another Mardi Gras season.