Posts Tagged With: floats

MONROE FAIR PARADE.

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We were on our way to the Library and couldn’t get there. We ran into the Monroe Fair Parade, a traditional event held every year at the start of the County Fair.

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We were paraded by the Aloha Ladies and their beautiful horses.

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A few floats; this one advertising their upcoming Octoberfest.

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Various community groups, martial arts…

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…a dance group. They were stopped in front of us for awhile and I noticed all the pretty hair-does.  It reminded me of our exchange student from Indonesia who had kinky black hair. We sat in the back row of a church and she pointed out the many colors of hair to me and then became concerned she would be the only student in school with black hair.

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I believe the braids are called French braids. I know I envied them on my best friend in grammar school who wore her hair like this. My mom, who is French, could not do french braids.

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Politicos were parading, of course we don’t vote here. Carolyn let her dog help out.

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What’s a parade without some neat old cars?

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The Harley Club paraded with their hogs.

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And various princesses representing their club or group, all unfamiliar to us.

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I admire her courage to walk a parade in shoes like these. Only the young.

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A marcher gave me a piece of candy and this little girl wanted it. I gave it to her, but what she really wanted was to be able to GIVE a piece to Jim. I guess she thought he was being cheated. Then she hugged him and I got her to pose for a picture.

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She turned out to be a real ham and I probably took a dozen pictures of her. That unbridled laugh just makes me smile.

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The sun was harsh and overhead for most of the parade. But this group of horsemen were behind us and we caught them catching up to the front.DSC08450 (Copy)

I noticed the strap of his sombrero held near his mouth.

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I’m curious to know why that position instead of under the chin?

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Magnificent horses make this parade special. Don’t know the breeds by sight, but look at that mane and tail. DSC08511 (Copy)

This troup danced their horses. You can see the maneuver as the horse is trained to side step and cross a front leg over the other. I’ve been part of organizing a parade and I was impressed how they do it here. And the cost of insurance to allow horses in a parade is astronomical.

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Music provided by a flatbed of singing musicians. I know horses love music. At least, my daughter’s horse did. He’d just get silly when someone parked in our pasture and turned on the radio.

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Apparently, there is a race track nearby. I noticed that the race cars don’t drive the parade. Each one had a black truck with a padded pusher to get them through the parade. Jim told me high performance engines cannot drive and idle at low speeds.

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I counted 12 tractors in the parade…DSC08481 (Copy)

…and one banana.

 

 

 

 

 

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CHASE THE CHICKEN AND THROWING BEADS.

Mardi Gras has many aspects. We’ve seen some of the great events, the costumes, the food, the parades in Lake Charles. Chasing the chicken is another. DSC02706 (Copy)

These women were selling tickets to the gumbo dinner at the Grange Hall in Iowa, (I-o-way), a small town east of Lake Charles. The dinner is gumbo made from the chicken, the rice, the pig, or whatever can be begged, borrowed or stolen on the ride through town. That is tradition. Now, the dinner is cooked ahead of time and only the chicken gets chased, caught and released.

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Everyone was getting ready and excitement filled the air.

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Some chase with horses, others bring their ATVs, and trucks unload the kids who do most of the chasing.

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The girl in pink told me she always catches the chicken and the boys get mad at her, so this year she isn’t chasing. “Besides, it’s to too wet and dirty out there.”  She is so right. It has been a very rainy Mardi Gras.

 

 

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These two men entertained everyone waiting to get started for the first drop. They drop  chickens at several  predetermined spots, and the chase commences.

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The gumbo wasn’t ready when we arrived, but it smelled heavenly as we walked around and visited. Thanks go to this lovely lady cooking the chicken.

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We would  liked to have watched the chicken chase, which has a very serious history, but we had the good fortune to be invited to ride a float in the Fat Tuesday Parade. Isn’t that cool? The peasant classes in medieval times  would get hungry as their stores got  low. At times it was necessary to beg for food from the richer people and landed gentry. No one wanted anyone to know they had to beg, so they resorted to hiding behind masks, and costumes. Since just about everybody did it, it became a “festival”. They went out in a group with their wagons and horses to ask for food. Land owners  wanted to be rid of the motley crew of beggars, so they would throw out a chicken or a pig and get back inside for safety. The beggars had to catch the chicken or pig. Sometimes they  would find a bag of rice,  bread, or onions  left for them. They would go back to town and share the goodies and cook up a big gumbo for everyone to eat. The beggars, being masked could curse the king, make jokes about the aristocracy, or verbally flog an offensive neighbor without fearing retaliation, as they hid behind their masks.

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The plan was to drive to Renola Simon’s house to meet the various krewe members who were riding this year, and to enjoy a lunch of deer sausage and king cake. The sausage was so good, we found out where we could buy some. And, we got our first look at the float which has been stored at Renola’s house where it was first built by her husband and other krewe members in 1989 or 90. Renola told us a horror story about the float. Right after the men finished welding the frame together, lightning struck nearby and ball lightning rolled about the metal float. A frightening and unforgettable experience. The men had just gotten off the float and gone into the garage to put away tools. This is the back-end of the float where we entered. It also has a bathroom, which, by law, all floats have to have.

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Krewe members loaded hundreds of pounds of beads, roughly 50,000 strings of beads.

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Behind the beads are boxes of Mardi Gras plastic cups.

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Jim is showing off his dance technique after we loaded enough beads on hooks to throw. The bags next to the rails hold moon pies and other goodies to throw. One bag held snacks and drinks for the crew. One member brought cookies. We learned that riding a float is a big party. If it isn’t fun, why do it?

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The logistics of lining up a parade of huge floats are enormous and once you are in place, there is lag time. We took a walk and examined other floats.

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Other Krewes were dancing…

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…or drinking and dancing.DSC02784 (Copy)

This krewe drove in with their beads in a trailer. You can see the back-end practically touching the ground. They were just unloading their beads and getting them onto their float.

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After our walk, we did a bit of partying of our own.

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Some guys got us wired up for music, and you can see the dance floor isn’t very big, but dancing is part of the deal. I get the guys names all mixed up, but I think this is Cliff and his wife. She made their costumes and put all those sequins on. He taught me to Cajun dance. The steps are pretty simple if you don’t look at your feet.

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Everyone began to costume up. Some members  like to throw stuffed animals and tease the crowds who scream for them.

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This guy walked by the floats to show off his unique costume.

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This young woman was also riding a float for the first time. She is a nurse and engaged to one of the krewe member’s son.  We got a short lesson from Eva about how to throw beads.

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When everyone was ready, they posed for a picture. Don’t they look great?

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Then we were moving and throwing beads to the waiting crowds. It was so much fun to catch someone’s eye and land the beads right within their grasp. The crowd was thin and we only used half the beads, but what a thrill.

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All thanks to this matriarch of the krewe, Renola Simon. When we returned to the house, she showed us her Mardi Gras room, with many costumes, prizes, souvenirs, and memorabilia of her many years in the krewe which was her and her husband’s social life. They went dancing every week, sometimes twice a week. She served as President, was queen twice, and now is financial officer. “It keeps me young,” she said. She is a marvelous personality I will never forget.

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And Eva, too. Unforgettable personality. Her accent I only wish I had recorded, that down home true Cajun twang. And, she makes a great margarita, doncha know. I hated to say goodbye to Krewe des le Cajun.

 

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TASTE DE LOUISIANE, CHILDREN’S DAY, A WET PARADE.

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The city puts on a dinner called Taste de la Louisiane.  The idea is to give tourists an idea what Louisiana cuisine is all about. we were in-line with Carla and Mitch, and we had dinner together. Mitch likes the idea of traveling in a motor home, so we filled him in.

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The offering, if I can remember them all from top left to right, jambalaya, gumbo ,spicy okra, coleslaw, red beans & rice, etouffee, tomato shrimp, corn machow. I’m not sure I’ve got the names right. Then king cake and bread pudding for dessert. The gumbo was delicious but we thought the gumbo cook off was a better introduction to Cajun food and people  here,  and much more fun.

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The big room at the Civic Center was filled with activities for children. We took a sweep through there, face painting, a bounce house, many games like ring toss, and hoops.

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The kids were also entertained by various costumed characters like Shrek, Mickey and Minnie Mouse with whom they can have their pictures taken. Lake Charles does a lot for kids over Mardi Gras.

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Jim mentioned when we wandered into the room, “Hey, this band is better than the two we heard yesterday.”  And the two we heard yesterday were good, but these guys were better. A down home style that we associate with Cajun country music we like.

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We spotted a costumed Eva Gidlow, center, who turned out to be an events  promoter for Lake Charles. Jim asked her how we could find some French people?  She was quick to get us acquainted with Renola Simon, on the left. Renola invited us to ride on the French float on Fat Tuesday. We were overwhelmed at such a special invitation. As for French people?  There were plenty of them.

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The two women on the right, (it was loud and I couldn’t get their names) are members of a very active Cajun Dance group that travels all over. Their purpose is to preserve Cajun Music and Dance. They have a membership of 2000 families in 7 Chapters in Louisiana.

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Their official title means The Good Time dancers Assn. of French Cajun Music Lake Charles Chapter. Isn’t that amazing?  We talked about our mutual French heritage, how my grandparents wanted to assimilate and wouldn’t teach my mother, aunts and uncles French, nor we grandchildren. These women,  being Acadians, were punished for speaking French in school and made to feel inferior. We blogged about that subject  in some depth in 2010.

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Then, Eva  introduced us to 82-year-old Lesa Cormier, whose father was a founding member of the Sun Down Playboys. He still plays. His grandson plays bass. His son plays with a different band. There were two players missing on this day, but I took pictures of them all. Only two original members of the band remain. They are one of the oldest Cajun Bands in the state of Louisiana, still playing music after 64 years. In fact, Eva told us, Lesa  sent a pressing of a their music to the Beatles Apple Records and they liked it and promoted his music. He gave us one of his CD’s.  You can read more about them at this address:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sundown_Playboys

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We so enjoyed August Broussard’s accordian and singing.

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And, Red Touchet playing fiddle. Too fun.

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I think this is Lesa’s grandson.

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I just don’t know who is who. All I can be sure of is they are a great band.

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Let the good times roll!!

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We waited for the Children’s Parade. Just before the floats began to roll, it started to pour down and rain, and rain, and rain. These two ladies are sisters. The woman on the left was my favorite dancer, with her twin sister in yesterday’s blog. I didn’t know they were sisters at the time. The sister on the right said to me, “We’re six girls and everyone of us has gray hair. I’m only 50 years old.”Dancing while capturing beads.

This is the twin sisters. They danced throughout the parade in between floats, in the rain, and while the floats were throwing goodies. I never saw such fun. They were born of a family of 12. (I hope I’ve got my info remembered correctly.)

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The floats were fun, and wet. They threw candy, beads, cups, stuffed animals, plastic coins, and various trinkets.

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As we got wetter and wetter, Jim kept asking, “Are we having fun yet?”

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While I tried to take pictures and catch beads, the sisters would give the best ones to me. They filled me up with cups, coins, beads and stuffed animals. They were so much fun, generous and I didn’t even get their names. I didn’t have a hand free to write them down. I hope they read the blog and correct any errors.

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Home, drenched to the gills; purse and everything in it. All of our clothes. I spread the beads out to dry in the Bronco windshield and steering wheel. There was no place to lay them. DSC02584 (Copy)

We had clothing hanging from the cutting board, the visor, the steering wheel, the backs of the seats…

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The heater was on all night trying to dry things with a huge thunder storm roaring outside. In fact, the signal was down for about three hours this morning, which is why we are so late to blog today. When life is wet, we still have fun.

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NEIGHBORHOOD PARTY

From Mary’s Desk-

There are parades every day  during Mardi Gras. I attended my first one yesterday in the National Historic District of Algiers. During the long wait for the parade to come by our chosen spot, I learned that the parade, especially a daytime one like this, is  really about  family, a neighborhood party. The locals  set up their barbeque pits, tables, ice chests and were serving friends and neighbors who happened by. Everyone was enjoying the potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs and chicken. Good food, happy greetings, meeting old friends, cousins and neighbors;  showing off the grandbabies. The kids are out of school.

This veteran parade attendee brought his special ladder. I thought maybe it was for camera gear, but Jim recalled attending a parade where practically everyone had ladders. Later, this fellow perched his two little kids on the seat so they could see above the crowd.

The young girls walked by, hoping to catch the eye of a young man. The gentleman sitting next to me told me his wife told him to quit ogling the girls. He was setting a bad example for his grandson. But he and I agreed this was a great ritual for the young. Some shy girls and boys, some bold and confident  want to be seen. We saw one girl dressed in tattered jeans and mink; others with colorful shoes, fancy clothes, pants hung low, dreds and mohawks, or their best hairdos.  It was fun to watch the interplay.

Vendors passed by with their trinkets;  young boys tossed footballs and ran skirmishes around the adults. Young girls showed off their best dresses and giggled a lot. The cute little dog drew a lot of attention, only 11 months old.

The long awaited floats began to arrive. This parade was hosted by the Nomtoc Krewe. Floats lose their appeal a bit in the bright sunshine of day. And, in fact, the welcome sun, and our position, made it hard to get good pictures. The whole  purpose of the floats seems to be throwing trinkets. They fly everywhere. I caught quite a few and it was a lot of fun. One “floater” asked Jim: “How many grandchildren do you have?”  He told him three and the guy threw him 3 stuffed animals.

It was difficult to discipher the theme of many of the floats.

The paint was drying on this basketball player the day we went through the Mardi Gras Museum.

This one was entitled, The Race Is On.

The bands played. This young man has a glass of water in his horn.

I spoke briefly to this girl’s very tired looking mother marching along beside her and asked her, “Did you know when your daughter joined band you’d be marching the parades with her?” She shook her head, no, and smiled.

The band took a rest break in front of us and the horns hit the street. One marcher rested his hat on his horn.

What is a parade without horses? If you look closely you can see beads flying through the air.

This adroit group of riders had several boys who could ride backwards. Quite a feat.

After the parade, we rolled for home and bought fresh  trout and shrimp for dinner. What a treat. Each day we pass a stand with several fresh fish vendors on our way back to the park.

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