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Gumbeaux Gator and Katie Harrington, president Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana, unveil the 2013 Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana poster on Tuesday. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Gumbeaux Gator and Katie Harrington, president Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana, unveil the 2013 Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana poster on Tuesday. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Mardi Gras organizers highlight annual events (with schedule)

Last Modified: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 7:16 PM

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 or visit the CVB’s website at

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.)

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