The Giant Omelette Celebration Sunday
Abbeville, Louisiana’s 5000 Egg Giant Omelette Celebration
November 7th, 2010
England has its Queen Elizabeth. Abbeville, Louisiana has Olga Toups. The slight, silver haired woman wearing a tiara and flowing gold cape owned the city today. The annual Giant Omelette Celebration’s Honorary Queen, Olga Toups is the widow of “Bichon” Emery Toups, one of the legendary Three Wise Men who traveled to Bessieres, France 27 years ago to witness their Giant Omelette Festival and returned to inaugurate a similar version of the festival in the city he loved.
“Bichon” Toups was one of those people who, through good works and a good heart, come to embody the spirit of a city. This was the second festival “Bichon” wasn’t swirling eggs around the giant skillet with a wooden paddle and bantering with dozens of his friends. He passed away November 3rd last year.
Olga Toups became all the more precious in the absence of her beloved husband. From the time she was driven around Magdalen Square in :The Procession of the Egg: to the time the last embers of the Giant Omelette cooking fire were extinguished, just the sight of her golden cape reminded thousands of people of the provenance of the city wide event.
“Olga, Olga!” was the shout you could hear all day long.
If she was uncomfortable in her role, you’d never know it. Her blue eyes sparkled, her composure was royally relaxed, and her smile felt like an embrace.
Parents up and down the street ask Olga to pose with their kids...
but what they really want is some time to talk with Olga themselves. Olga, engaging, unassuming, thoughtful, embodies the spirit of this city, let alone this event. When she's gone, so will pass a living, breathing link to the past. It will be up to the next generation to honor her, "Bichon," and the other men and women who created this event, by contining to pass the torch to the younger generation...
perhaps a girl like this.
A touching moment - this young girl waved to Olga, and looked crestfallen when Olga didn't see her. Since I'd been following Olga down the street, I called to her and she returned for a photo with the girl, who was thrilled to stand next to a woman she idolized. I missed the photo but the memory of the girl's smile as Olga put her arm around her is clear in my memory.
And who wouldn't want to have a photo taken with Olga Toups, an icon who lives up to her reputation.
"Olga, do you remember that old radio show called 'Queen for a Day'? That describes what you were to everyone in Abbeville today. How did that feel? " I ask her as she's preparing to leave.
She grins. "I do remember that show."
"It felt special," she says, then pauses. "...very special. Emery would have loved to have seen this. He would have been so proud..." Tears well up in her eyes. "...but he's in a better place now," and she composes herself and smiles again.
"I'll be back next year, at least I hope so."
"Well, Olga, I dont think I'll wait another year to visit Abbeville. It looks like there's lots of things going on here all year long," I respond.
"Why don’t you call me if you come back earlier, we can have lunch. I'm still in the book under Emery’s name, I haven’t changed it," Olga says.
This woman is an original. That's an offer I can't refuse.