Children special at Le Krewe Des Jeunes Amis

The children were front and center for Le Krewe Des Jeunes Amis’ Children’s Parade on Saturday afternoon.

Getting away from the debauchery of some parades is what drew Diana Del Torro and her twin daughters to get involved in the Children’s Parade, which ran from the U.S. Courthouse on Lafayette Street to Cajun Field.

“These are all kids’ krewes,” said Del Torro, whose daughters belong to the Krewe d’Amusment. “It’s still fun for (the parents), but it is all about the kids and is a lot of fun for them. It’s Carnival. It’s fun. It’s Lafayette, and Mardi Gras is just what you do.”

Del Torro’s 7-year-old daughters, Gabriela and Eliana, have been involved with Le Krewe Des Jeunes Amis for six years. Gabriela said her favorite part of the krewe is the parade.

“I pretty much throw beads to a bunch of people,” Gabriela said, “but I do look out for my friends. I have a secret stash.”

For Jennifer Purkey, an International Falls, Minn., native who moved to Louisiana when she was in high school, this is the first year her daughters have been involved with the krewe.

“What more fun could you have than to dress up like a princess and ride in a float,” Purkey said. “If you’re going to live in Louisiana, you might as well be a part of the Mardi Gras traditions.”

Purkey said her daughters, Riley, 4, and Lindsay, who quickly corrected her mom to say she was “almost 6,” are loving the Carnival festivities.

“This is their first year and they’re having a blast with it,” Purkey said. “They’re loving the stuffed animals, the beads and the balls.”

Krewes with kings and queens riding on floats rolled through downtown Lafayette tossing beads, cups and doubloons. The familiar sound of marching bands was heard rolling through. It was just like adult-run parades, but Karen Thibodeaux, a Lafayette native who lives in Houston, said she took her nieces and nephews to the children’s parade because it catered to the kids.

“I drove in from Houston and we try to get the best spot right here on Jefferson Street,” Thibodeaux said. “The floats and bands in this parade are really more receptive to the children.”

Les Krewes Des Jeunes Amis was established in 1996. The krewe’s motto is “Every child is a king or queen.”

Sherry LeBlanc’s daughter Janie has been involved with the Krewe of Oberon for four years. Janie, a junior at St. Thomas More, is having a bittersweet Carnival season because this is her last ride as a member of the court.

“It really makes me sad,” said Janie, 16. “This is kind of like graduating.”

Sherry LeBlanc said Janie’s dress was started in the summer and finished just in time for the parade.

“Every year they have a different theme,” LeBlanc said. “Every year they make different costumes. This has been a really fun process.”

Janie said she will definitely miss her time with the krewe.

“My favorite part is the people,” she added. “Everyone is so nice. It is like a little community. There is always something to do to keep you busy and I’ll probably just stay involved in some capacity. Maybe a ball assistant or something.

“This won’t be my last parade.”