Spanish Town Parade brings floats, flamingos, fun to downtown BR

Paint the town PINK

A warning to all the politicians and public figures of Louisiana: The Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade has its eye on you.

For 35 years the parade has featured floats roasting the highs and lows of entertainers, governors and athletes.

“I kind of consider the Spanish Town Parade kind of a watchdog group,” said Gil Leachman, a board member for the Krewe of Bierbog and chosen as this year’s parade king. “If there’s something that isn’t right, they’ll make fun of it.”

This year the parade homed in on the reality television industry, which spends a lot of money in Louisiana seeking interesting characters, filming pawn shops, alligator hunters and quirky rich people.

“Louisiana has always been a place that has some curiosities from the nation around,” said Bill Brumfield, a board member of the Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana, which runs the Spanish Town Parade. “We’re somewhat different from everything else.”

The parade theme, “Flamingo Dynasty,” combines the traditional mascot of the Spanish Town parade, the pink flamingo, with the Robertson clan of Monroe’s unscripted television hit “Duck Dynasty.”

Spanish Town krewes are keeping their floats secret until Saturday morning, but expect lots of camouflage patterns and some risque interpretations of Louisiana’s reality television stars.

“We have some of the most imaginative people you’ve ever seen,” Brumfield said. “They can take some of the dumbest things and really do some great stuff with it.”

First-time parade watchers should expect to be offended.

“When the parade first started, the attitude was if anybody goes away from the parade unoffended, we’ve not done our job,” Brumfield said.

An all-day party, Spanish Town’s Mardi Gras parade is a more blue collar parade, said Leachman. Most floats are hand-painted by the krewes, and it doesn’t cost thousands of dollars to participate like some traditional New Orleans parades, he said.

“Spanish Town ball and parade are really considered the poor man’s ball and parade because it’s relatively inexpensive to get into,” he said.

The parade’s crude form of humor and laissez-faire attitude have brought “vast hordes of parade goers,” said Dave Randall, of the Krewe of Yazoo Precision Lawn Mower Drill Team, which performs choreographed routines with push mowers along the parade route.

While the parade starts at noon Saturday, the party starts early — at 6 a.m. for some krewes. They party until 11 a.m. At noon the parade starts.

“Then it’s just mad house,” Leachman said, “throwing beads and trinkets to the crowd.”