Mardi Gras organizers highlight annual events (with schedule)

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Southwest Louisiana is preparing to once again roll out the second largest Mardi Gras in the state, complete with familiar

festivities like cook-offs, dancing and parades.

Organizers with the Mardi Gras of Southwest Louisiana and the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

held a news conference Tuesday to highlight this year’s annual events.

“Residents can look forward to all of

their favorites, but we have made some changes this year — Twelfth Night

being the biggest,”

said Katie Harrington, president of Mardi Gras SWLA. The Twelfth

Night Parade, which will start the Mardi Gras season, will be inside the

Civic Center and will begin with the

2012 royal courts of more than 50 krewes making their last

promenade, ushering in the 2013 season.

Megan Hartman, senior marketing manager at the CVB, said Twelfth Night means 12 days after Christmas, which is the legendary

beginning of the Mardi Gras season prior to Lent.

“It will be new and improved this year,” Hartman said. “Everything will be bigger and more exciting.”

Harrington said the one thing that will not change is a “family-friendly” Mardi Gras.

This year’s Mardi Gras poster was

designed by Red Owens, who is from Southwest Louisiana. It will be

available for sale starting

at Twelfth Night. The signed poster will cost $35 and $25 for the

signed poster. The poster features a Mardi Gras alligator

and Mardi Gras crawfish dancing together and celebrating the

season, which Harrington said is a “true representation of the

Southwest Louisiana culture.”

This year, the CVB is partnering with

Dr. Michael Kurth and Dr. Dan Groft at McNeese on an Economic Impact

Study during Mardi

Gras. The last time a study like this was conducted was in 2004.

The study will look at everything from in-town and out-of-town

expenses. The CVB said they are looking at the “big picture of

Mardi Gras in the area.” Once the study is complete, the results

will be released.

For more information visit the Mardi

Gras website at www.swlamardigras.com or visit the CVB’s website at www.visitlakecharles.org.

Early season event schedule

• Twelfth Night Parade, 5 p.m. Jan. 6, inside the Lake Charles Civic Center Coliseum. (Tickets cost $5 in advance, or $6 at

the door.)

Queens’ Pageant, times vary, Jan. 12. (Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for children.)

Community Dance, 6-8:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

Annual Mardi Gras Run, 7 a.m. Feb. 2 (Parade begins at 3 p.m. Dance starts at 5 p.m.)

Vinton Mardi Gras Celebration, 8 a.m. Feb. 2 in downtown Vinton. (Chicken Run starts at 8 a.m., followed by a Gumbo cook-off

at 10 a.m. and parade at 2 p.m., ending at Knights of Columbus Hall where the Gumbo judging will begin at 1:30 p.m.)

Krewe of the Golden Years, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 5.

Mardi Gras weekend schedule

Merchants’ Parade, 7 p.m. Feb. 8, downtown-midtown Lake Charles.

Carlyss Mardi Gras Trail Ride, 8:30

a.m. Feb. 9. (Begins and ends at West Calcasieu Arena in Sulphur. Line

up at 6 a.m. Admission

fee; for trail riders, $5.)

World Famous Cajun Extravaganza/Gumbo Cook-Off, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 9. (Admission costs $5; children 5 and under, free.)

Krewe of Omega Parade, 2 p.m. Feb. 9, downtown Lake Charles.

Zydeco Dance, 3-5 p.m. Feb. 9

Krewe of Barkus Parade, 3 p.m. Feb. 9. (Entry fee applies).

Krewe of Cosmos Presentation, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9.

Krewe of Illusions, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9. (Tickets cost $30. Orchestra, formal attire required. $18 balcony reserved seating and

$15 standard balcony seating, casual attire.)

Taste de la Louisiane, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 10. ($7 admission fee.)

Children’s Day, noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 10.

Children’s Parade, 3:30 p.m. Feb. 10, downtown Lake Charles.

Lighted Boat Parade, 7 p.m. Feb. 10.

Royal Gala 7 p.m. Feb. 11 (Tickets $5 in advance, $6 at the door. Children 5 and under, free.)

Fat Tuesday schedule

Iowa Chicken Run, 10 a.m. Feb. 12. (The chicken run starts and ends at KC Hall and runs west down 90.)

Motorcycle, Hot Rods & Classics Parade, noon Feb. 12. (Downtown-midtown Lake Charles).

Krewe of Krewes’ Parade, 5 p.m. Feb. 12. (Downtown-midtown Lake Charles.)