WELSH — Mardi Gras celebrations will be in full swing Saturday with family-friendly events throughout the day as Welsh marks the return of its Mardi Gras run and parade.

The celebration will feature chicken runs, children's activities, live music, a street dance, craft booths, food vendors, a community gumbo and more. The parade will have krewes, horses and beads and other throws.

Festivities begin at 8:30 a.m. with two chicken runs and continues until 9 p.m. with fun for the whole family.

"We used to have a three-day Welsh-Lacassine Mardi Gras run about 20 years or so ago, but for some reason or the other it just stopped over the years," organizer Chelsea Duplechin said. "But we want to try to bring it back to our town this year to help keep the tradition alive. A lot of younger kids want to be a part of that tradition and we hope to keep it going as long as we can."

Activities kick off at 8:30 a.m. with an in-town run and a separate country run. The in-town run is for horses, wagons, golf carts and runners, but no floats. The country run is open to horses, wagons and floats.

Those wanting to run in town should register at Sportsman Park between 7-7:30 a.m. The run will line up at 8 a.m. and leave at 8:30 a.m.

Those wanting to do the countryside run should line up at 8 a.m. at the practice field located behind Welsh High School. Registration is 7-7:30 a.m. with the run beginning at 8:30 a.m.

The in-town run will stop at 10 a.m. at the Golden Age Nursing Home, followed by a stop at the Bayou Villa assisted living, where they will dance and beg for ingredients for a community gumbo.

Food and craft vendors will open at 2 p.m. along East South Street near the Welsh Police and Fire Departments.

A free community gumbo will be held after the parade in the old Dollar General Store at the corner of West South Street and South Elms Street.

Entry into the vendors and street dance area is $5 with children 12 and under free.

There will be chicken runs, children's activities including decorating T-shirts and making Mardi Gras masks and games on the lawn of the Welsh Police Department on East South Street. Children's chicken runs will begin at 5 p.m. on the lawn.

Children in costumes will receive free cotton candy and other goodies.

The Mardi Gras parade begins at 3:30 p.m. at Cajun Tales, 501 North Adams St., continuing down South Adams to State Farm Insurance, 401 South Adams St.

From 3:15 p.m. for about 45 minutes, both the eastbound and westbound exit ramps on Interstate 10 will be closed.

Access to Adams Street (La. 99) will be closed at several intersections during the parade.

Motorists should use Exit 48 at Lacassine for eastbound traffic and Exit 59 at Roanoke for westbound traffic for access to La. 99 north and south.

For access to 4 p.m. Mass at Our Lady of Seven Dolors Church, motorists can go north from U.S. 90 on S. Sarah Street, then turn east on Welsh Street to access the rear church parking lot.

Live entertainment and a street dance will be held at the corner of South Adams Street and West South Street beginning with Charlie Wayne 2-3:30 p.m. followed by 99 South 4-6 p.m. Aaron Istre will take the stage 7-8 p.m.

A traditional Mardi Gras demonstration will be held at 6:30 p.m. near the stage.

At 9 p.m., the party will resume at Southern Pub with Casey Peveto. There will be a $5 cover charge.

For more information and entry forms, contact the Welsh Town Hall at 734-2231 or email Lauren@townofwelsh.com, Chelsea Duplechin at 526-6849 or Lauren Bergeaux at 789-3827.

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