NEW ROADS — “It’s like Bourbon Street, in New Roads!”
That’s how 27-year-old April David described the annual Mardi Gras celebration in Pointe Coupee Parish on a soggy Fat Tuesday.
David, of Fordoche, along with her friends Megan Wildey and Tony Rider, were among the early arrivals along Main Street in New Roads on Tuesday morning, awaiting the start of the Community Center Carnival Club’s 91st parade and the New Roads Lions Club’s 70th Carnival parade.
The three were standing in front of their ice chest, with David proudly sporting a lime-green, zebra-print feathered hat.
“I call it my ‘pimp hat.’ I wear it every year,” David said. “I like coming here rather than New Orleans because I don’t like getting pushed down Bourbon Street.”
Tuesday’s crowd started thin, but swelled slightly as the parades got under way.
Mayor Robert Myer said this year’s Mardi Gras crowd was “obviously smaller” due to the persistent rainstorms that had drenched the region for the past few days.
“I still feel good about the crowd, based on the forecast we had,” Myer said Tuesday afternoon.
Myer said city officials were expecting a 90 percent chance of rain on Fat Tuesday.
But during the four-hour span during which both parades separately rolled down Main Street, heavy rain fell for only about 15 minutes.
“I knew there would be less people,” Myer said. “This is a family crowd; not a bunch of revelers coming out to play in the rain.”
But Tuesday’s gray sky and wet chill could not dampen the fun of those who did arrive in New Roads for the Mardi Gras festivities.
Many people in the crowds that lined Main Street were dressed in hooded rain coats and boots, or were carrying umbrellas.
By the time the Community Center parade began around 11 a.m., it was business as usual with revelers dancing in the street and children screaming for plastic beads and trinkets from riders aboard the more than 65 floats making up the two parades.
“This is the best family parade there is,” said Anna Cormier, of St. Francisville. “I bring my kids every year.”
Cormier’s daughter Katlyn, 4, had only one request before the parades got under way.
“I want candy,” she said with a big smile.
The theme of this year’s Community Center parade was “Unforgettable Movies & Sitcoms.” It was led by the elaborate gold-and-white float of the parade’s King Altin Warr Jr. and Queen Robin Gaines.
Popular television shows featured on the various floats in the parade were “Sanford and Son,” “Fat Albert,” and “Family Matters.”
But the morning crowd-pleaser was the krewe that called its float “House of Horrors,” featuring dancers in tattered clothing and zombie makeup led by a dancer dressed as Michael Jackson in the pop icon’s “Thriller” music video.
Many parade-goers used their smartphones to capture video footage of the krewe members when they stopped in front of City Hall and performed the “Thriller” dance routine, winning thunderous applause from the crowd.
The New Roads Lions parade rolled around 2 p.m. as the sun struggled to break through the wall of clouds. It was led by King Bennett “Eddie” Bergeron and Queen Christian Bondy.
The theme the parade’s floats shared was “Musical Memories.” The floats paid homage to popular musicals and movies such as “Grease,” “The Lion King,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
One of the crowd favorites in the Lions parade was a tractor disguised as a large armadillo with a driver tossing toilet plungers to the crowd.