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Calling It Home

It is officially Mardi Gras season and with less than three weeks away it is going to be action packed.

Next Saturday, February 15 Knights of Nemesis will be rolling down Judge Perez Drive at 1 p.m. This will be an exciting fun-filled event for St. Bernard Parish and all those who are our guests.

Watching a parade here in the Parish offers several positive aspects. Safety is paramount. Our Sheriff’s Office has parade management down to a science from traffic control to returning lost children but most of all they are out in effective numbers. They have the respect of parade goers.

Another factor, watching a parade is a social event bringing together lots of people multiple generations of families and friends. Food and grilling can be an incredible art form along a parade route not just a bag of chips but tasty hot food just off the grill and sides to go with it. No doubt there will be some good cold beverages to go with the parade excitement. The comradery says something in itself.

A little unknown factor is St. Bernard does not have a flurry of parking meter maids writing tickets and city tow trucks. Please, do bear in mind, do not park anywhere that may cause a safety problem, block a drive, or a handicap space.

The Knights of Nemesis have done an outstanding job each year as St. Bernard’s only Mardi Gras Parade in presenting a fun-filled down home community parade. Thank you Knights for a parade, we can call home grown and from “da Parish.”

Do your best to invite some friends from the region to come to St. Bernard and really enjoy watching a great parade in a safe family-oriented venue.

Now, let’s get down with a subject of debate: big St. Charles Avenue parades versus smaller neighborhood home grown parades. The St. Charles Ave. parade means lots of people, ladders, rows of campsites and furniture, long distances for parking, meter maids, and crowds of beads and throws hoarders. Generally, the crowd can be nice in certain areas or horrible depending how much alcohol some people have consumed especially underage drinkers on a get drunk binge for a parade.

There are pleasantries along a big parade route if you are lucky enough to get invited to a private home or party and can watch the parade in a somewhat comfortable environment. Having uncrowded space with friendly people, possible food and beverages, and the all time important necessity a clean restroom are real gems.

With so many parades stacked up behind each other on the St. Charles route parade watching is not a simple hour or so. The big parades too often focus on size and the bags of beads and light up throws. If you have a bead/ throws basketball player doing high jumps next to you it can be an issue. I find it hard to sometimes see the floats and enjoy their art work or theme unless you are on a ladder or elevated spot. Missing the visuals of a nice parade can be a real loss.

I do not mean to be negative about the big parades and I recognize they entertain many people especially out of towners. Let’s face it, that is what makes for the big Mardi Gras entertainment and parade watchers.

Now, my real preference for parade watching are three smaller walking krewes and horse or human drawn float parades that are the style of older neighborhood parades— The Joan of Arc, Chewbacchus, and the Krewe du Vieux. Let’s not forget Mardi Gras Day marching groups as well, like the Pete Fountain Half Fast Marching Band or the Krewe of St. Ann. With the small krewes, the budget is lower which allows for younger participants. The floats and decorations are krewe/homemade lending for creative art forms. Throws are not the general Chinese imported plastic beads and blinkies but more handcrafted and unique. With the smaller floats and alternative decorated vehicles, the themes are more pronounced. Krewe du Vieux is always loaded with satire and pointed messages. Mitch Landrieu always gave unlimited reasons for the one liners in the decorations. The crowds are generally not as dense and are for the most part there to watch a parade not party and catch throws. Their alternative routes allow for going through the Marigny and French Quarter neighborhoods. There seems to be a more friendly atmosphere with the parade watchers. My pick of smaller parades may not be yours, to each their own.

For many reasons, I am grateful for the Knights of Nemesis continuing to parade each year in St. Bernard Parish. There is truly a downhome spirit for the people enjoying our only Mardi Gras parade. Friends, families, and parade goers line Judge Perez Dr. for a good time. Our crowds are not too thick, parking is easy, public safety by the SBSO is paramount, and most of all a community comes together to celebrate the Mardi Gras spirit.

Before, I forgot to try some of the delicious local king cakes from Gerald’s in Arabi to all the way down to Poydras. Yes, we have some of the best king cakes right here in “da Parish.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, Miss Lena Torres turned 99 years old. Another way to look at it: she has started her journey to 100 years or a century. For her birthday, a very small party with family was the fare. Four generations of Torres were celebrating at one time. If I am correct, Miss Lena is saving her energy for the Lourdes Ball Saturday night.

Do not miss the Cook-off for the Coast at Docville Farm on Saturday, Feb. 8. It is free to attend and there will be some great samples of some south Louisiana cooking. Come out and share the mission to save our coast.

St. Bernard Voice

234 Mehle Street
Arabi, LA 70032
Phone: 504-279-7488
Fax: 504-309-5532