Small crowds mean more beads in Lafayette

“I’ve been coming here all my life, We’re prepared. We’re prepared for the rain, we’re prepared for snow.” Annette Levine, Lafayette resident

The man in the funky green hat held a sign that proclaimed “I’m from New York.”

He was well rewarded, catching chunks of beads thrown from floats that rolled through misty Lafayette streets in King Gabriel’s Parade, the first of three on Tuesday.

“It’s been an absolute blast,” said Leland Jackson, of Syracuse, N.Y.

“And we’re coming back,” said his friend, Joy Fragola, who lives in Youngsville.

The streets along the Lafayette parade route were less crowded than in past Fat Tuesdays.

Those who did attend stood a good chance of being soaked as weather reports predicted 100 percent chance of rain.

Rain did fall, but not much: there was a 10-minute shower at about 2:30 p.m. during the final two parades — the Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade and the loud, fun, Fox 15 Independent Parade.

Early Tuesday, regional storm cells flowed well to the north of Lafayette, according to the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, whose radar showed rain bands north of Alexandria and into Arkansas.

But the threat of bad weather lead to the cancellation of the Mardi Gras parade in Jeanerette. Angela Broussard, of the Grand Marais Mardi Gras Association, said it’s the second time in 33 years that the parade on Fat Tuesday has been canceled.

Those who attended the Lafayette parades behaved themselves, at least for the most part. Lafayette police at 4 p.m. had made a few arrests for disturbing the peace, Cpl. Paul Mouton said.

Annette Levine, of Lafayette, and her clan of kids and other women set up shop at the corner of Johnston and Stewart streets, the same as last year and the years before that.

“I’ve been coming here all my life,” said Levine, 47. “We’re prepared. We’re prepared for the rain, we’re prepared for snow.”

She said that most years she hauls her barbecue pit to her spot, but this year she played it safe, preferring to serve hot dogs and sausage and french fries.

Two of the youngest in her group were still sleeping in the car when the first parade started rolling.

“We got here early,” she said of their 5 a.m. arrival at the parade route. “They want to get some rest.” Revelers lining the route were treated well — fewer people to throw to meant more beads for those who attended.

King Gabriel’s Parade rolled through fast, showering attendees with bags of beads. The following Lafayette Mardi Gras Association Parade was slower with fewer beads but with more marching bands, including the St. Martinville High School Band, Washington-Marion Marching Band and the band of Central Magnet High School in Beaumont, Texas.

The final parade, which locals called The Independent Parade, featured not one marching band. It did, however, have an abundance of loud, booming music and krewe members who were having fun and slinging beads while riding atop corporate floats that included Knight Oil Tools, Crossfit Health and Krewe of Hooters.

Leland said he arrived Friday and headed to his friend Fragola’s home in Youngsville where the party started.

“Bloody Marys are a great way to start out at 11:30 in the morning,” he said.

Wendy Fragola, who also lives in Syracuse and is Joy’s sister, said she’s now a veteran of Mardi Gras, having survived a visit to south Louisiana in 2012.

“I was the ridiculous one last year,” Wendy said.