‘One of the best yet’
It was cold early on and attendance reflected that.
But as the day wore on and the temperature began to climb — slightly — more and more people turned out for the 19th annual Carnival d’Acadie Tuesday.
Even with the sunshine and practically cloudless skies, the day started with temperatures in the low 30s — the wind chill making it feel more like the mid-20s. But, by noon, as the thermometers slowly inched upward, the parking lot and area surrounding the Crowley Enterprise Center was teeming with revelers.
“It was a great day,” said Mayor Tim Monceaux Wednesday morning. “There was nothing bad about it. We had a great crowd and I’m very appreciative to see all the people come together for this celebration.”
As the start of the annual parade drew near, Parade Chairman Larry DuBose was obviously excited.
“We have 30 floats ready to go,” he said just about an hour before the 2:30 p.m. start. “This is going to be one of the best yet.
“Look down (Parkerson Avenue),” he continued. “The crowd’s going to be every bit as big as the Rice Festival Children’s Parade.”
If he overestimated, it wasn’t by much.
Thousands lined North Parkerson Avenue from the Enterprise Center to and around the Court Circle to view the parade and catch the many beads and trinkets — including stuffed animals, flying discs, candy, cups and more — being tossed by riders.
“You know, if it was about 10 degrees warmer, or the wind was about 10 miles per hour slower, it would be a perfect day,” said former Mayor Greg Jones, who was working in the “adult beverage” booth Tuesday.
He recalled, “Everyone thought it would be warm this year because Mardi Gras is so late, but if you remember, the last time Mardi Gras was in March —in 2014 — that’s when it froze and we had to cancel the whole thing.”
Monceaux said the only “downside” to this year’s celebration was Monday night.
This year the city, sponsors of Carnival d’Acadie, decided to go back to the original format of opening the Mardi Gras observance on Monday night with musical entertainment. But severe cold and the threat of rain kept crowds at bay.
“We didn’t get much rain — only a few drizzles and only for a couple of minutes — but it was cold,” Monceaux said. “And it’s really too bad because we had a great band (The Beau Young Band).
“But Tuesday made up for it. We had great weather and great attendance. It was definitely a success.”
Musical entertainment continued on Tuesday with a jam session by Alfred Doucet kicking things off early. Apollo’s Crows played from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns, who have played at nearly all of the Carnival d’Acadie celebrations, were again on stage from 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., with a break for the parade. And Grand Slam closed down the festivities from 5 to 8 p.m.
For the Mardi Gras Costume Contest, Frank Johnson’s Mardi Gras Indian was declared the first-place winner in the adult division with Randy Simon, Mardi Gras Cowboy, in second. Dillon Hailar was the winner in the children’s division.