by Madison Boudoin, staff writer
Down on the bayou, locals know exactly how to have a good time. Even the smallest of gatherings can turn into a celebration and for no particular reason at all. People on the bayou know how to throw a great party, and Mardi Gras is no exception.
Mardi Gras is a season filled with beads, food, traditions, and good times. Communities join together in celebration to live up to the saying laissez les bons temps rouler, which is French for “let the good times roll.”
During Mardi Gras, visitors have the opportunity to party like a local at one of the biggest celebrations in the Bayou Region. To truly party like a local, there are traditions that must be followed.
Before the celebration can begin, it is important to claim a spot along the parade route. Front row seats are taken quickly, so it is best to show up to the route a few hours early. Spots can be claimed by using portable-folding chairs, tents, or even trash cans – it all works!
On Mardi Gras Day, or “Fat Tuesday,” the celebration starts in the early hours of the morning. The locals – dressed in purple, green, and gold – waste no time and begin tailgating long before the parades are scheduled to run. Barbecue pits are fired up, food is served, and families spend quality time with one another as they wait for the parades to begin.
“I really do enjoy Mardi Gras. I grew up around it and used to go to parades when I was little with my family that always came in from out of town,” says Kameryn Rome, a Houma native. Rome says that her family used to spend the whole day of Mardi Gras on the Houma parade route.
According to Rome, parades on the bayou have a more family-oriented atmosphere compared to the parades in New Orleans, and because of this, it is the perfect location for traveling families to experience Mardi Gras.
Parades in both Houma and Thibodaux are very laid-back. “They are very similar in that way,” says Ryan Dubina of Houma. He said that the main difference has to do with size. Thibodaux parades are much shorter, and the floats are smaller. Despite these differences, the celebration is just as big.
When the parades start rolling, the competition for colorful beads begins. Everyone stands, waves their hands in the air, and shouts the traditional phrase, “throw me something, mister!” For many locals, this is the most exciting part of the celebration.
“Riders throw beads, stuffed animals, toys, homemade trinkets, and a variety of other items. It is fun to see what you will end up catching,” says Bernadette Lanata of Boutte.
She watches the parades with her family until the very last float passes.
However, the celebration is not complete without a delicious piece of king cake.
“It is a tradition in my family to share king cake together after the parades are over,” says Bernadette. It is a sweet treat that should not be passed up. This tasty dessert is easily found at bakeries and local grocery stores all over the bayou during the season of Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras on the bayou is a family event that is filled with many special traditions that the locals appreciate. Locals on the bayou sure know how to, as the French say, “let the good times roll.”