The pink flamingos have been “liberated” from City Park Lake and king cakes are testing the willpower of grocery store shoppers. That means it’s time for the annual Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade.
“A lot of people, this is the event they look forward to all year long. I happen to be one of them,” Spanish Town Parade organizer Bruce Childers said.
The parade begins at noon Saturday, Feb. 9, at Spanish Town Road and Fifth Street. It continues down North, Fourth, Florida, Seventh and Lafayette streets. The end of the route is at Spanish Town Road and Third Street.
The theme for this year’s parade is “A Spanish Town Twinkie Ate my Ding Dong.”
The Spanish Town parade is irreverent and just plain odd, a mark of pride to those involved.
“It’s the zaniest thing you’re going to see,” Childers said.
Floats don’t always adhere strictly to the theme, but that’s OK, he said.
“There are a lot of people with talent in this town. I’m always interested to see what they come up with.”
The parade gets bigger and more popular every year, but Childers said he doesn’t see it ever losing its appeal.
In 32 years, the event hasn’t lost its edginess.
“It will never turn into a kids’ parade,” he said.
Still, if not a kids’ parade, Spanish Town is a kid-friendly parade.
“If you have little kids, bring them. They don’t know what’s on the floats, they just want the beads. When they get a little older, they’ll get an education,” Childers said.
He advised choosing a parade-viewing place carefully.
“There’s no bad spot to be. If you don’t want to deal with the crowds, don’t go to Spanish Town Road (to watch the parade). If you have kids and don’t want to be around drinking, go to the alcohol-free zone. Anywhere you are, you’ll get plenty of beads,” he said.
As in previous years, the “family-friendly zone” will be in front of St. James Episcopal Church on Convention Street.
Parking will be available in state garages, but they usually fill up by 10 a.m., Childers said.
Proceeds from the parade and ball benefit various charities that the board members choose after the parade. Childers looks for local charities in need of money.
“I like to find ones that people don’t know about but do a lot of work locally. Ones that operate on bare bones with limited resources,” he said.
The Spanish Town parade may keep getting larger, but it’s always about local pride.
Childers expects another successful year.
“The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a great day for Saturday,” he said.
As befits a true enthusiast, Childers is already busy planning the 2014 parade. “We’re thinking of a theme for next year that will bring it over the top. We’ll see if it works,” he said.
FRIDAY, FEB. 8
KREWE OF SOUTHDOWNS: 7 p.m.-10 p.m., Baton Rouge. http://www.southdowns.org.
KREWE OF HERMES: 6 p.m., Uptown New Orleans. http://www.semrehclub.org/home.html.
KREWE OF D’ETAT: 6:30 p.m., Uptown New Orleans. http://www.lekrewedetat.com/.
KREWE OF SELENE: 6:30 p.m., Slidell. http://kreweofselene.net/.
KREWES OF LAFAYETTE: 6:30 p.m., Lafayette. http://www.gomardigras.com.
KREWE OF APHRODITE: 6:30 p.m., Houma. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Krewe-of-Aphrodite/106671049384540.
KREWE OF CENTURIONS: 7 p.m., Metairie. http://www.kreweofcenturions.com/parade/.
KREWE OF LYRA: 7 p.m., Covington. http://www.kreweoflyra.com/.
KREWE OF MORPHEUS: 7 p.m., Uptown New Orleans. http://www.kreweofmorpheus.com/.
KREWE OF ADONIS: 7 p.m., Morgan City. http://www.cajuncoast.com/mardigras.
SATURDAY, FEB. 9
TOWN OF WASHINGTON MARDI GRAS PARADE: 10:30 a.m., Washington. http:// www.townofwashingtonla.org.
KREWE OF NOMTOC: 10:45 a.m., Westbank New Orleans. http://www.nomtoc.org/.
KREWE OF IRIS: 11 a.m., Uptown New Orleans. http://www.kreweofiris.org/.