Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mardi Gras Parades (Part 7)

On Monday, the day after the Chicken Run, we gathered at James and Yvette's to assemble our float for the Kaplan Parade.

We sorted through all the beads and things we collected at the other parades, packaging them for our turn to do some throwing.

Just some of the throws we collected from the five parades we attended. 

The guys bolted all the sides to the trailer that would serve as our float. And then the gals did some decorating.

The float sides went up fairly easily. 

The interior rear panel of the float. 

 Each side of the float, as well as the rear panel, held a map 
showing where we called home

The map wasn't quite accurate. This time there were no folks from Oregon, Utah or Minnesota. The couple from Kentucky and Michigan were trapped in west Texas on a volunteer gig. And the folks from Iowa were now from Wisconsin. The idea, however was still accurate. We did come from all over the country to celebrate Mardi Gras in Kaplan!

Jennifer wielded a mean staple gun! 

A happy/sad day as Fat Tuesday would be our last in Louisiana. 

The right front panel of our float. 

The left front panel and door to the float. 

The outside rear of the float was a lovely mural painted 
by one of Yvette's acquaintances.

On Tuesday, James, his grandsons, and a young set of twins donned real costumes for the event.

James' eldest grandson posed with Terry. 

James and the kids are ready to go. 

The rest of us donned our masks and what would pass as costumes and got to ride in the parade and throw stuff at/to people along the way.

We impressed the judges (the King and Queen) so much with our enthusiasm that, once again, our float won a First Prize ribbon for displaying the Spirit of Mardi Gras--just as it had two years ago. Perhaps it was the confetti sticks with which we showered the Royal Couple with bits of colored paper that helped.

Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the throng of people begging "Throw me something, mister." I was preoccupied with...well throwing stuff.My arm was sore for a couple of days.

All in all, we had a grand time during our visit to southern Louisiana and its family oriented Mardi Gras celebration.

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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mardi Gras Parades (Part 5)

The Titans' Parade had a theme of Big Guys (and Gals), both good and bad.

King & Queen of the Titans

The Krewe of The Titans Float

Nessie? Is that you?

Red Ridinghood

Ya gotta love the alternate Cajun spelling!

Elvis, The King!

Elvis' float was all Jailhouse Rockin'

Captain Hook

The Cap'n would not have liked Cajun Country. Too many gators.

Captain Hook Float was manned by Pirates. Aaargh!

I think this was a Kraken.

No question as to who this bad boy was: Satan himself.

Of course, in Cajun/Creole lore there's one person to be feared more than Satan:

Marie Leveau

When the Titan's Parade ended, we returned to our campground, gathered around the TV and watched the Super Bowl. Most were cheering on the San Francisco 49ers in loyalty to one couple who's son-in-law is the offensive coordinator. I was rooting for the Ravens because of Ray Rice and the idea that should they win, it would just rub it into the Patriots that much more. It was a close call.

(PS We all agreed that the Paul Harvey narrated God Made A Farmer commercial was the best. The M & M commercial (I will do anything...) was the funniest.)

Mardi Gras Parades (Part 4)

The Hyacinthians' Parade had a theme of Kids' Games and Colors. Or at least that's what it seemed to be to me. We didn't have a score card nor did we consult one of the many newspaper listings to confirm this but, for once, it seemed pretty obvious as we watched the floats roll by.

The Hyacinthians' Queen

The Hyacinthians' Float

A Colorful Crayon Peacock
This was really a pretty ingenious idea.

Hula Hoops

The $25,000 Pyramid

Retro KISS action Figures
I must have missed this phenomena as my kids were growing up. I do remember something of a cartoon show, however.


Lite Brite
I remember stepping on these things--often and usually barefoot. Nearly as bad a Legos--which were not one of the floats. No Etch-a-Sketch, however. Probably because, besides the red rimmed case, Etch-a-Sketch was all gray scale.

Another simple but effective costume.


The Hyacinthians were quickly and seamlessly followed by the Titans. I'll feature that parade in the next post.

Mardi Gras Parades (Part 3)

Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday, was still a day to celebrate Mardi Gras and in Houma, Louisiana they did so with TWO parades--a double header, if you will.

We ran a bit late getting there (only 1 1/2 hours early) and had to park a block away from Doyle's because they had already closed the street in front which was our access to the shopping center parking lot we had used two nights running. Still, we were in time to watch some of the pedestrian traffic as folks strolled up and down visiting friends or looking for a good (aka "Free") vantage point from which to view the parade.

The first parade was preceded by two great American traditions: A Shriners' Motorcycle Team and the Budweiser Clydesdales.

The Shriners' support trailer

They did their usual moving figure eight routine as they progressed down the parade route

They even had their own sound system. EVERYBODY had a sound system!

Following the motorcycles came a slightly older mode of transportation. Each huge horse was not just in harness, but there seemed to be a red-shirted handler close by--just in case.

An impressive quantity of well cared for horse flesh.

These guys are HUGE!
And a Dalmatian (the original coach dog) for good measure.

The Budweiser wagon was followed by a golf cart with a couple of big bins in the back and two guys with very large shovels. It was one of the few times we saw a krewe cleaning up after itself.

With the prelims out of the way, it was time for the main show. First the Krewe of the Hyacinths and then the Krewe of the Titans...but they will have to wait. I've gotten strangely thirsty and will have to take a short break before posting pictures from those parades.