On any other day, Shelly Pendergrass, Gretchen Thibodeaux and Maralena Murphy would have stuck out like sore thumbs while walking around downtown in their outlandish costumes.
But not on Saturday. Not during the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade.
The trio, dressed in pink wigs, pink tutus, pink stockings, black shirts and sunglasses, were fitting right in with the rest of the whimsical crowd.
If anything, Pendergrass joked, they were fitting in too well and were wearing clothes that weren’t as extravagant as outfits they have worn at previous Spanish Town parades.
“This is timid,” she said of her getup.
The three pink ladies were among the thousands of celebrants who swarmed into downtown Baton Rouge Saturday for the city’s annual Carnival blowout known as the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade.
This year’s crisp, clean and cool weather drew a sharp contrast to the conditions a year ago, when the skies opened up and drenched every parade reveler in sight.
“The last two years it was terrible, so we are so excited it’s so sunny,” Pendergrass said.
In line with Spanish Town parade tradition, many of the parade-goers donned eye-catching outfits laden with pink accessories.
Kirby Goidel took it up a notch with his peculiar costume.
Goidel sported a pink zebra-striped hat, light pink shirt and — of all things — a kilt.
Goidel’s reasoning for the outfit was simple.
“I had a kilt, a shirt and a pink hat,” he said.
Goidel said he has worn many other eccentric items to the parade in the past, such as pink boas. He did not sport a pink boa this year, he said tongue-in-cheek, because he has a “reputation to maintain.”
“It’s just a free for all,” Goidel said of the parade. “It’s what Mardi Gras should be.”
Not everybody wore pink. Others — such as Donnie Capello and Evan Gardner — went with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, purple and gold.
Capello wore a giant green, purple and gold bow tie with suspenders and a hat with Mardi Gras-colored strings on it. Gardner sported giant beads with a green T-shirt and a jester-style hat.
Capello said he wore a Mardi Gras-colored mullet last year.
“It’s a way to blow off steam, have a good laugh,” Capello said of the parade.
Costumes or no costumes, just about everyone attending the parade embraced the festivities. There was dancing, loud music, drinking — and many long lines for restrooms.
The floats, as usual, flaunted some cheeky humor in view of this year’s parade theme, “A Spanish Town Twinkie Ate My Ding Dong.”
Take, for instance, the Krewe of No Klue’s float, titled “50 Shades of Pink,” a reference to the erotic romance novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Or perhaps the “Ding Dong Dynasty,” a reference to the popular Louisiana-based TV show “Duck Dynasty.” That float was covered with palm leaves and pink flamingoes.
Other floats made references to the now-defunct Twinkies snack cakes and the supposed Dec. 21 Mayan apocalypse that never happened.
The Booze Krewez float sported a sign saying, “So Twinkies, which were supposed to survive a nuclear holocaust, die three weeks before the end of the world? Well played, Mayans.”
Not everyone dressed up in Mardi Gras-style outfits.
The Krewe of Yazoo went with a zombie-themed “Lawn of the Dead.” They always do something lawnmower-related, offered Krewe member David Randall.
The krewe wore zombie makeup, black wigs, white shirts, ties and Hostess name tags.
“We were supposed to do it two years ago, but we got rained out,” Randall said. “We were going to do it last year, and we got rained out.”
And then there’s the Italian American Marchers, a unit with members dressed up in dark suits with Italian-flag sashes.
The organization promotes Italian heritage in Baton Rouge, said Frank Arrigo, a founder of the group.
The group, which has marched in the parade annually for the last 12 years, always interacts with people in the crowds lining the route, going so far as dancing with them, Arrigo said.
“We just enjoy celebrating Baton Rouge and celebrating our heritage,” Arrigo said.
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