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.”
Article by Madison Boudoin
STAFF WRITER & COPY EDITOR
Video by Wes Barnett
STAFF VIDEOGRAPHER & SPECIAL SECTIONS
Cassidy Smith, a 23-year-old Nicholls alumnus, created Mon Cher Honey— mon cher being French for “my dear”— in 2018. What began as an assignment for a college course and a favor for a friend, became a passion project for Smith as the sole owner and operator of the business.
“I started off with 60 jars of honey and was completely surprised when they sold out within four or five days,” Smith says.
Mon Cher honey is locally harvested and distributed in and around the bayou region of Louisiana. She strains and fills fresh orders of hand-jarred honey from her kitchen table. Mon Cher Honey is certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture.
According to the USDA’s latest agricultural census, “United States honey production in 2017, from producers with less than five colonies, totaled almost 600 thousand pounds, down 22 percent from 2016.” The research shows that only 50 colonies exist in Louisiana. The colonies produced 4,300 pounds of honey, totalling $8,342 in 2017. Smith has already produced about 300 pounds this year.
Each hive is removed and relocated by Daniel Achee, who goes by the name Dan the Bee Man. Dan removes bees from the New Orleans, Houma, Thibodaux, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette areas.
Dan the Bee Man first contacted Smith with a five gallon bucket of honey he acquired from a bee hive extraction. Ever since starting his business, he wanted to package and sell the honey himself but did not have the time. Since Smith was not working while completing her last semester at Nicholls, she accepted the offer to help Dan.
After Smith focused on the project for almost two weeks and researched all things honey, Mon Cher Honey was born. She had full control over the design, marketing outlines, social media strategies, and other professional collaborations.
After several trial runs to find the perfect jar for scooping honey, Smith found an American-made jar that is eco-friendly and recyclable. Every 16 oz. jar of Mon Cher honey comes with an information card about honey.
“With the purchase of Mon Cher’s local honey, you are saving bees and spreading awareness about endangerment,” Smith says. “We pride ourselves on making sure our customers and our hives are happy. We are always encouraging members of the community to buy local.”
Smith says consuming local, raw honey is better than any store bought honey because processed honey loses important enzymes and antioxidants that make it so nutritious.
Starting Mon Cher Honey has taught Smith to appreciate local businesses. Smith says the support from small businesses in the community has helped Mon Cher Honey take off.
Many local businesses now stock Mon Cher Honey. You can find the jars and T-shirts designed by Smith at Lynn’s Interiors, Ship-N-Geaux, and Weeping Willow Cafe and Bakery in Thibodaux. Smith found her most surprising success at Weeping Willow, where her honey sold out in just two business hours. She received an email the next morning requesting 10 more jars. Smith has even been contacted by markets in New Orleans and Houma looking to charry Mon Cher Honey in the future.
One of the biggest challenges Smith has faced as a young business owner is making investments in herself, as well as in the company.
“Trusting your instincts is hard and I am constantly learning from my mistakes. Trial and error can be tough, especially knowing I can’t get my time, effort, and money back,” says Smith.
Looking forward, Smith plans to move to Austin, TX, in June, where she will continue working as a public relations professional. Smith’s goal is to have the business running smoothly for Dan when he eventually takes over. The pair have discussed hiring a Nicholls Mass Communication intern to help Dan.
Damon Smith, Cassidy’s father, says he’s just proud to see his daughter put her passion and education to use.
“Cassidy’s determination and drive from an early age let us know that she won’t settle for anything that is just average. She wants to be the best at what she does and will be successful at whatever she puts her mind into.”
Article by Ashlyn Verda
STAFF WRITER & VIDEOGRAPHER
Ashlyn Verda is from Des Allemands, LA and is majoring in Mass Communication/PR.