Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mardi Gras Parades (Part 6)

We moved camp after the Super Bowl and set up in Abbeville, LA for the remainder of our stay. We took advantage of the time between the Sunday Parades in Houma and the Sunday Chicken Run in Church Point to do some household chores like laundry and such. We also were able to squeeze in tours of a growers plantation (The Shadows-on-the-Teche), the Conrad (KonRiko) Rice Mill and the Cajun Food Tour I wrote about earlier.

A little R & R and lots of dining out and we were ready to dive right into the next wave of events and parades.

First up was an early morning rise to travel to Church Point for the Courir de Mardi Gras. (That's translated as "The Run of Fat Tuesday.")

The practice dates back to a long, long time ago when folks--usually the poor field workers--would go door to door begging for food for the gumbo pot during the time of feasting prior to Lent. You can check the Wiki entry for the Origins.

In Church Point, the custom has several well followed protocols. One, now of the past, is that it is strictly a male event. This year, for the first time, they had all the Queens and Princesses participate in their own mini-chicken run.

We arrived in time to see the changing of the guard, as it were. The old Queens bestowed the crowns of office upon the new.

The "Old" Queens transferred their crowns to the new ones.

And then all posed for pictures...

...while an assortment of attendants looked on.
(Love the "Moody Gras" T-shirt!)

Then the land owner released a chicken and the Queens and Princesses and attendants dove into the fray to capture the little bugger! (The young lady in the yellow and purple outfit in the second photo caught the chicken which appeared to be a little red hen.)

The prelims over, it was time for the main event.
Which, of course, required music. Thus a live band of musicians was hauled down the driveway.

The Band arrives on site.

The "field hands" under the control of the sub-captains lined up on one side of the land owner's property while The Captain rode up to seek permission to enter the field and beg for something for the gumbo pot.

Lining the field in hopeful anticipation.

The Captain rides forth seeking permission to enter and something for the pot.

Permission granted, the costumed boys and men danced their appreciation amongst themselves and with the women present. All under the watchful eye of The Captain and his assistants who assured things were kept in hand.

Dancing for their dinner.

The mounted sub-captains kept a watchful eye for any hanky-panky.

That's the wrong chicken, fools!

Several, if not all the gals got to do some dancing.

Carol got a few moves in. 
(If they had played "The Jersey Bounce" she would have worn him out!)

Some even danced a bit on the horses' saddles.

Terry did a couple of steps with one of the participants.

After a few lively dances--capers really--the "field hands" were again lined up on one side of the field as the land owner brought out the chickens.

Ready! Set! Go!

One by one the chickens were set free to be pursued and pounced upon by the costumed peons. Captured chickens were turned over to the sub-captains to be placed in a cage for later decapitation and/or, if already deceased, immediate cleaning and quartering.

(Sorry, No pictures of chickens getting caught. Much too hectic for that.)

The last chicken being flung, all returned to the parade floats parked on the road and the parade resumed.

Laisse les bon temps rouler! Indeed!

(On a side note: Every float had a porta potty aboard...just in case. Some were well disguised and others were pretty obvious. My favorite was one in this parade that was both well decorated and well named. Across the top the Krewe in charge had stenciled: The Let It Loose Caboose!)

Some additional photos of the Church Point Courir de Mardi Gras can be seen here and the history of the event can be read here.

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