3:30 PM. A convoy of police cruisers, sirens screeching, announces that the Courir de Mardi Gras has returned from begging in the countryside. The crowd pulls back like the Red Sea and stands three deep at the side of the street. Many of them wave and shout to friends or relatives who fill the three colorful wagons rolling down Duson Avenue.
Twenty minutes later, the Courir crowd, adults and youngsters, gathers on the dance stage.
Under the leadership of two capitaines, they sing The Mardi Gras Song. For some, it may have been their first courir. Learning every verse is required, though anyone growing up in southwest Louisiana knows the song by heart, and probably learned it before The Star Spangled Banner.
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.
MORE MARDI GRAS SCENES FROM IOTA
One red-feathered chicken, a symbol of a successful "courir", is held aloft for all to see (L). The chickens in the cage in the truck bed will benefit from release back to their roosts, not be cooked up in the ceremonial gumbo as in days of yore.
Snapshots of the parade.
Once the Mardi Gras Song is sung, the revelers descend into the street. A masked reveler's right index finger taps the palm of his left hand, I hand over a dollar. As a reward, pt gets a piece of hard candy!
There's that chicken again! Only after the Mardi Gras Song and ritual begging and dancing in the street are celebrants permitted to remove their home made masks and capuchons (hats).
Serendipity strikes. As the revelers disband, I chat with a woman who's just "unmasked".
"Did you know there's a women's courir, too? My grandmother began it thirty years ago. I've been doing it for years," Monica Frugé informs me. She introduces me to her son, Trever Frugé.
Amazing. The first "Capitaine" for the women's courir was Gerald Frugé.