“If you go to New Orleans, you ought to go see the Mardi Gras.”
Professor Longhair is right – of course he is, he’s always right – if you ever visit New Orleans you should go see the Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras season starts on twelfth night and ends Mardi Gras day. There are plenty of Mardi Gras parades, but only on that Tuesday is it truly Mardi Gras. Our favorite New Orleans parade is Muses. We also call it carnival, because on Ash Wednesday, Catholics say goodbye to meat. Good ones, anyway.
A parade in New Orleans along the parade route is truly a marvel to behold. If you catch the parade near the beginning, you will see it is good wholesome family entertainment, which is not happening in the French Quarter (not a bad thing). However, not all parades occur in New Orleans and its suburbs. When you venture out further into bayou country, you will see run across a different set of rules and traditions. Areas such as Houma, Thibodaux, and Golden Meadow put on great family friendly parades. Gheens has a special parade with some traditions that I have already said too much about.
My favorite parade is my hometown parade, the Krewe of Apollo. I grew up in the small town of Lockport. Our two most famous people to come from Lockport is former LSU great Tommy Hodson (ok, he was from Mathews but he went to school in Lockport) and artist Hank Holland. If you ever find yourself in Lockport, go to his gallery. I actually have not been when it is open, but I look through the windows each time I go to the restaurant next door and marvel at his talent. Thanks to my parents, we have a piece hanging in our house, and I enjoy my morning and afternoon coffee from mugs with his pieces on it. But I digress…
Lockport is so small it does not have a traffic light. It does have a rich football history for when it had its own high school it won at least one state championship (my dad will correct me if it’s more). Every year on the Saturday before Mardi Gras, it hosts its annual parade, the Krewe of Apollo. There are only two bands in the parade: Lockport Middle School and Central Lafourche High School. Central Lafourche has an award-winning band that could win first place in the many other parades that are held that day, but they always show up for this small hometown parade. They always make everyone smile when they play.
This parade is definitely not a Blane Kerns affair. The floats are put together by Krewe members and decorated by Krewe members. No, they are not as beautiful as the professionally done floats that roll in the other parades. That’s what makes this parade unique. They can only be seen in Lockport. The Krewe memebers work hard on the floats by dedicating what spare time they have to decorating the float. My sister is in the parade, and I know she puts plenty of effort into her float as do all members put into theirs.
Recently, the parade decided to go with a theme. This year it was cartoons. Again, I’m in awe at how well these floats are decorated considering that people are doing this in the small amount of free time they have.
Because the town is so small, you can easily catch the parade more than once. It passes a block away from parents house in two different places. Between catching it the first and second time, Cristina and I walked part of the parade route looking for a friend. We didn’t find the friend, but we did catch people having fun. Families in RVs in the Church parking lot barbequing , children jumping up and down in back of trucks with their parents because they are so excited, and families gathered in a member’s front yard with a pig on a spit. Roasted meats and boiled seafood fill the air.
Too often people associate Mardi Gras with the debauchery they see from the French Quarter. That’s only a part of it. I associate Mardi Gras with the Lockport Parade, which means I associate it with family. I know Cristina and I enjoyed spending it with ours.