LAKE ARTHUR — Mardi Gras may feel a little different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing guidelines, but organizers of the 22nd annual Lake Arthur Mardi Gras Run and Parade are hoping to continue the tradition.
Festivities kickoff Saturday, Feb. 6, with an extended countryside chicken run followed by a parade. This year’s parade has been moved to Thornwell.
“There’s a lot of quarantining going on and people are missing their families and loved ones and are begging us to have the events,” parade organizer Karen Hay said. “We all just need some type of normalcy and something positive in our lives during this time.”
The parade will roll along La. 380 through Thornwell at 2:30 p.m.
The family-friendly event will feature dozens of horseback riders, colorful floats and costumed revelers.
“I think we all are just looking forward to being outside, seeing people in costumes and enjoying some normalcy even if it’s just for a few hours,” Hay said.
Those attending and participating in the events will be encouraged to wear masks, practice social distancing and follow CDC guidelines, Hay said.
“We encourage families to sit together, but distance themselves from others,” Hays said. “We are also asking each float to post signs encouraging people to practice social distancing, follow CDC guidelines and even wear masks.”
Anyone wanting to watch the parade of floats go by and catch some goodies is encouraged to line up on side of the road in Thornwell. Spectators are also urged to be mindful and courteous to residents who live in the area. Do no block driveways, park in yards, walk on people’s property or along side any major highway.
The day’s festivities begin at 9 a.m. as people on horses, trailers, wagons and vehicles get ready to scurry the countryside, stopping at designated spots along the way to dance and chase chickens.
Registration and line-up for floats will be at 8 a.m. at the Lake Arthur Park. Registration and line-up for horses and wagons will be at 8 a.m. at the Monlezun canal boat dock.
There is no entry fee to be part of the run or parade, but participants must register.
“We’ve been doing the chicken run for 22 years,” organizer Kurt Viator said. “It’s just a tradition that everyone is looking forward to and we look forward to continuing that tradition.”
Last year’s run drew 54 floats, 60 horses and several wagons. Viator expects another good turnout this year as Mardi Gras events are being canceled in many places.
Participants are encouraged to wear Mardi Gras costumes, decorate their floats and toss throws, but doing so isn’t required.
“The whole run goes on the outside of Lake Arthur and people are always sitting outside waiting for throws,” Hay said.
The run through the countryside will include several stops for chicken throws — including a field on Fox Road, a field near the cemetery on Andrus Cove Cemetery Road and at a residence on Trailer Town Road. There will be no chicken runs in the Lake Arthur baseball field this year.
For more information on the parade, contact Hay at 337-224-3700. For information on the horses and wagons, contact Kurt Viator at 337-658-9153 or Rachel Viator at 337-224-6632.
Registration forms, rules and regulations can be picked up at Lake Arthur Town Hall or during registration on the morning of the event.