Around here everybody knows Galveston Mardi Gras and the festivities in New Orleans are world-[in]famous, but the Gulf Coast is home to dozens of Mardi Gras celebrations from Alabama to Texas. Rural southern Louisiana is the hotbed, and here are scenes from some of the best.
The Mardi Gras courir (run) in Mamou looks downright medieval. As in other small Cajun towns, costumed riders led by a capitaine go from house to house demanding that the owners surrender ingredients for a vast pot of gumbo. Big fun for people, if not the chickens at the bottom of those boozy scrums.
Here's a clip from the JP Bruneau documentary "Dedans Le Sud De La Louisianne," recorded circa 1972.
Here's Mamou again 40 years later. Love the clip-clop Cajun jam used in both clips, perfect for horseback riding.
Lafayette, the Cajun metropolis, also has a big shindig.
Side tangent: Louisiana high school marching bands are the best in the nation. By far. The jazzy bluesman Olu Dara (father of rapper Nas) recalled that his Mississippi high school band once traveled to a competition in New Orleans. When his director heard the local bands rehearsing, he told his band to get back on the bus. They headed straight back to Mississippi without playing a note.
In its 92nd year the Community Center Carnival Parade in the Baton Rouge-area town of New Roads is one of the oldest African American–sponsored events in the nation. (And the New Roads Mardi Gras bills itself as the second-oldest in Louisiana, behind only New Orleans.)
New Roads is also the kind of place where the cops just watch if you decide to get crunk right in the middle of the street downtown.
The Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama is even older than the one in New Orleans.
We'll close with another scene from the Cajun prairies—Eunice, this time. Here a group of fiddlers in full regalia salute their fallen hero Dennis Magee.