This will be the 29th year that Livonians and their guests have enjoyed their own parade since the organization’s inaugural six-float parade in 1984.
The Livonia Carnival Association was founded to provide a local parade on the last weekend of Carnival for those revelers who are unable to attend the Fat Tuesday festivities. A highlight of the 2012 event, as in past years, will be the unmasking of the King and Queen at the Association’s reviewing stand when their float reaches that point.
The 2011 Livonia parade rolled in ideal weather conditions before an assemblage of approximately 7,000 spectators, according to town police chief Brad Joffrion.
Lundi Gras, Feb. 20, will be marked by the second Courir de Lundi Gras, orchestrated by the Krewe of Old River. This Southwest Louisiana-style equestrian event will consist of masked and costumed riders parading around the Batchelor area beginning at 11 a.m. and followed by music and food. Last year’s event, according to organizers, attracted an estimated 2,000 participants and spectators under sunny skies.
The 2012 Carnival season will culminate on Mardi Gras itself, Tuesday, Feb. 21, with the state’s oldest Carnival celebration outside New Orleans. New Roads’ hallowed parades will follow extended routes this Mardi Gras, with the 90th anniversary Community Center Carnival parade set to roll at 11 a.m. and the 69th annual New Roads Lions Carnival parade slated for 2 p.m. This year, the Community Center will portray the theme “Celebrating 90 Years of Mardi Gras Madness,” while the Lions will pay homage to “Two Hundred Years of Louisiana Statehood.” As in recent years, each parade is expected to include 30 to 35 floats and six to eight marching bands.
New Roads’ as-yet-secret royalty will, as dictated by tradition, unmask during the parades before their respective organizations’ reviewing stands: the Community Center rulers near the intersection of New Roads and Parent Streets, and the Lions Club monarchs at East Main and Court Streets.
Monetary proceeds of the Lions Carnival – the first known Carnival parade to roll for charitable purposes – are earmarked for equal distribution among all local schools which have competitive floats in the parade. Since 1941, the parade and other charitable endeavors have helped the Lions raise and put back into worthwhile causes more than $1.5 million.
This Mardi Gras, both of New Roads’ parades will follow their customary circuits of the city with one notable exception: instead of negotiating the “dog leg” of St. Mary and First Streets to reach picturesque Poydras Street, the parades will proceed down West Main Street, past St. Mary, then turn north at Olinde Street, thence east onto Napoleon Street, follow Napoleon to Poydras Street, and turn north onto Poydras to follow their usual path to Parent and New Roads Streets.
Last year, both of New Roads’ parades were of record length, with 35 floats and six bands in the Community Center parade and 31 floats in the Lions parade. Police Chief Kevin McDonald and other qualified statisticians estimated that 60,000 persons viewed the first parade despite threatening weather and that an intrepid 30,000 of them remained in defiance of a record 2.88 inches of rainfall and dangerous winds and lightening for the delayed Lions parade.
This Mardi Gras, parade-goers from Baton Rouge, Baker, Zachary, the Felicianas, Woodville, Miss., and points beyond will benefit from improved travel conditions to New Roads. They will no longer have to wait for hours to gross the Mississippi River via the old New Roads-St. Francisville Ferry since its discontinuation and the opening of the Audubon Bridge just east of and a few minutes from downtown New Roads.
New Roads Mayor Robert Myer, Police Chiefr McDonald and Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Beauregard “Bus” Torres have continually expressed appreciation for and encouragement of the parish’s extended public Carnival calendar which for generations had been limited to New Roads’ two parades on Mardi Gras. Parades are now staged in the central, southern and northern portions of the parish, thereby allowing all citizens convenient access to and more opportunities for family-oriented Carnival parades and related festivities.
Mayor Myer in particular has voiced his jubilation at the increased economic opportunities and occasions for civic cooperation and fellowship that Carnival and other events throughout the year offer Pointe Coupeeans and their visitors.
Myer is a great-grandson of the beloved James Mortimer “Jimmy” Boudreaux (1887-1949), founder of what is now called the Community Center Carnival parade. Boudreaux’ descendants have consistently been at the forefront of Carnival coordination and other worthwhile civic endeavors.
Police Chief McDonald and Sheriff Torres have been working for weeks with law enforcement agencies across the state to assure that security is more than adequate to handle the tens of thousands of people expected to visit New Roads for Mardi Gras once again.
Last year, a record number of officers were on hand to ensure the smooth running of the parades and safety for all participants and spectators. At a recent meeting of governmental, law enforcement, support services and parade officials, McDonald and Torres stated their confidence that a comparable number of officers would be in the city for this year’s festivities.
Meanwhile, float builders, seamstresses, caterers, marching bands, dance troupes and other citizens of all ages have been working long hours in assembling the floats, fashioning the raiment, practicing tunes and dance moves and preparing for bounties of the table in a manner befitting Pointe Coupee’s exalted status as one of the liveliest Carnival celebrations in the Gulf region.
They and countless others from near and far are praying that the weather is favorable for the parades and other events so that all of the weeks of hard work will pay off in a joyous celebration for all.