The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the Mardi Gras Krewe of Krewe’s Grande Parade in downtown Orange on Saturday, Feb. 26.

The clouds were threatening rain as the Krewes gathered at the corner of Simmons Drive and Green Ave. to prepare for their big moment. The weather did not dampen their preliminary celebrations. Among the 13 Krewes was the Gulf Coast Cajuns Association.

Rusty Benoit, president of the organization for the last three years, expressed his excitement about the club’s first time to participate in the parade. Benoit, a native of Geydan, La., recognizes that Mardi Gras is celebrated in different ways in different places. He tries to make it to Jennings, La when he can for a good old-fashioned chicken run and gumbo.

The new participants proudly honor their royalty. Alyssa Jo Stewart is Miss Gulf Coast Cajun Queen. She proudly greeted passersby with a smile. The Jr. Gulf Coast Cajun Queen is Miss McKenzie Sattler. Miss Lexy LaFleur is the organization’s New Dawn. The elder ladies are in charge of spreading their cajun heritage in the community, while Miss New Dawn is responsible for learning that heritage.

Cajun heritage is often thought to be centered in Louisiana. According to Patricia Devillier, though, it isn’t so strange to see Mardi Gras celebrated in Southeast Texas, because “there are so many Cajuns who live here.” Devillier also recalls that Mardi Gras is religious in nature and applies to everyone who wants to celebrate it. She says “It’s a time to have a good time after being cooped up all winter.”

While the Krewes watched the sky for rain, children began to gather along the sidewalk ready to fill their plastic bags with beads and candy. Protective parents made sure that the eager children did not get hurt in the chaos. Among these, three year old Ashlynn Crorey enjoyed the company of her twin cousins Hannah and Haley LeBleu who had crossed the river from Lousiana to see the parade. Staff Sgt. Mike McNair of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regimen of the Texas State Guard watched the parade with his comrades.

The wind was high and the clouds were black as the sound of sirens and drum beats came closer and closer. After the traditional police escorts, students from the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School marching band gave an outstanding performance. Cecil Toyota, Granger Chevrolet, and David Self Ford followed with an interesting array of vehicles, including a beautiful green Chevy Camero.

Several floats came next, including a team of young soccer players, Elvis swinging his hips, ladies on multicolored roller skates and even an huge inflatable alligator. Kim Harrison, who has wrestled alligators in the past, was not frightened. Polaris Rangers bedecked with gold and purple frills preceded the Krewe floats.

Krewe L’Orange carried our King and Queen, Ebb and Kim Moore, arrayed in huge white plumes. The Moores, owners of Palours in downtown Orange were honored at the Krewe of Krewe’s Grande Mardi Gras Ball on Feb. 5. Also participating were Krewe de Lagniappe who shocked us with a pink float decorated in an 80s theme.

Black and multicolored mullet wigs swayed back and forth behind a float covered with black and grey human silhouettes. Krewe de Bayou carried the Duke and Dutchess of Jungle Love who wore oversized brown plumes. The float was covered in green and purple dinosaurs centered around a giant golden Fleur de Lis. Other Krewes were Krewe Joie de Vivre, Krewe de L’amitie, Krewe C’est Bon, Krewe La Rouge, Krewe C’est La Vie, Creole Krewe, Krew Fais Do Do, Krewe de Bon Amis, Krewe Roulette.

Samuel McDonald was showing off his treasures to passersby. He had caught an array of goodies in his cowboy hat: necklaces, candy, and even a stuffed fish! When asked how he liked the parade he said with a grin from ear to ear: “It’s awesome.” I would have to agree. It didn’t rain on our parade.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roullez!