February 29, 2024


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Here’s how to celebrate Mardi Gras in Acadiana during a pandemic | Mardi Gras

Kim Veillon and Marty Thibodeaux typically celebrate Mardi Gras by dressing in elaborate costumes at the Apollo ball and throwing beads from atop a float in the Rio parade

Veillon, a floral designer, and Thibodeaux, an event planner and decorator, are usually busy working in the weeks and months leading up to their favorite holiday.

“We live for Mardi Gras,” Veillon said. “That’s our holiday. It’s in our blood. It’s been in our blood since we were children.”

This year’s revelry, of course, will be different.

Nearly every parade, ball and chicken run in the Acadiana region has been canceled this year because of the continued threat of COVID-19 that comes with large gatherings.

There are still some creative ways to celebrate the season, however. 


Marty Thibodeaux, right, and Kim Veillon are pictured with their front yard Mardi Gras set up, which includes a float, barricades, beads and a portable restroom Friday, January 29, 2021, on Monteigne Drive in Lafayette, La.

Veillon and Thibodeaux recently constructed a small float with costumed mannequins and flashy decorations in front of their Lafayette home. They even managed to get barricades and a port-a-potty for their display.

Their Monteigne Drive home is one of several stops on the pandemic version of a Mardi Gras parade — a series of decorated houses that people can drive by to view.

“We do it to make people smile,” Veillon said. “People stop by and take pictures. They stop by and say hi. It just brought some life and color back during a time of doom and gloom.”

Here are a few ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in Acadiana this year.

Decoration contests


A front yard Mardi Gras float is on display at the home of Marty Thibodeaux and Kim Veillon on Monteigne Drive in Lafayette, La.

If you’re looking for a fun way to commemorate the holiday, consider decorating your home or business to brighten up the community.

There are multiple decoration contests sponsored by neighborhoods, business associations and individual krewes.

Anyone can enter a home in the Krewe of Rio’s decoration contest, which is sponsored by KATC and comes with a grand prize of float riding spots and throws for two in the 2022 Rio parade.

“We loved looking at all the great ideas and expressions of the house floats in New Orleans,” said Rachael Sudul, spokesperson for the Krewe of Rio. “We wanted to see that happen here, and we thought the decorating contest could encourage people to decorate the fronts of their houses.”

Scott residents and businesses can enter a Mardi Gras decorating contest sponsored by the Scott Business Association. The free contest comes with prizes for the top home and business, 

Caleb Lege, president of the association’s board of directors, said the hope is that the effort will boost spirits and perhaps business as people drive by in the days leading up to Mardi Gras. The association normally hosts a ball and parade, both which were canceled this year.

“Mardi Gras is definitely an economic boom for businesses, so it’s definitely going to be an economic hit for us this year. We’re trying to still keep the spirit alive,” Lege said.

Learn more about the Rio contest at katc.com/community/contests or the Scott contest at facebook.com/ScottBusiness.

You can also register your address so others can visit your decorated home or business at krewedecanailles.com

Drive-by parades


Jean-Paul the cat explores the front yard Mardi Gras float on display at the home of Marty Thibodeaux and Kim Veillon Friday, January 29, 2021, on Monteigne Drive in Lafayette, La.

If driving by decorated homes sounds a bit lackluster, consider participating in a drive-by parade with other revelers.

The Cruise de Canailles parade happens from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at homes and businesses throughout Lafayette Parish. This year’s theme for the Krewe de Canailles, which normally hosts a walking parade through downtown Lafayette, is “Oh the Places We Didn’t Go.”

The parade will feature a few surprises, along with interactive opportunities on social media for those who can’t participate in person, according to a spokesperson for the Krewe de Canailles.

“It should be a fun time,” said Olatunde Soyombo. “It’s a good thing you can do with your kids and the whole family — whether you want to get in the car and go ride around or you want to stay home and decorate the house. It’s a safer way to Mardi Gras.”

The drive-by Rio parade will take place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday throughout the parish, piggybacking on the homes and businesses decorated as part of the Canailles event.

Big 102.1 FM, which usually provides the soundtrack to Rio’s parade, will provide festive music for people participating in the drive-by parade.

“We’re trying as desperately as we can to keep the spirit alive,” Sudul said. “And we’ll be back. Next year will be off the chain.”

Find a map of decorated homes for both parades at krewedecanailles.com.

King cake trail


Fresh king cakes are ready to be boxed Monday, February 5, 2018, at Twin’s Burgers and Sweets in Lafayette, La. Twin’s co-owners Billy and Denny Guilbeaux and their crew make around 200 king cakes, more or less, each day during the Mardi Gras season, and they pride themselves on meeting demand and never stopping taking orders. They offer several flavors including their now-famous boudin king cake, bavarian cream, pecan praline and cream cheese, strawberries and cream, blueberry, cinnamon and chocolate.

If you’ve gone without your usual king cake fix because of remote working, fret no more. The “fat” part of Mardi Gras is perhaps the most pandemic-friendly part of the season.

The folks at Lafayette Travel have compiled a handy guide to finding king cake at local eateries.

In addition to the traditional cinnamon and filled favorites, you’ll also find more innovative fillings and savory boudin king cakes, too.

A few of the more interesting king cake flavors include the cookies and cream at Poupart’s, the cinnamon butter at Keller’s, the turtle at Cajun Market Donut Company and the wedding cake at Gambino’s. 

Many spots also sell king cake by the slice, if you’re hoping to sample as many varieties as possible.

Plan your king cake fix at lafayettetravel.com.

Giving back


Tyler Abshire sorts beads Friday, January 29, 2021, at LARC’s Beads-N-More, a recycled bead store that employs individuals with developmental disabilities, on the grounds of Acadian Village in Lafayette, La.

If you’re hoping to help out a community organization that is suffering because of canceled Mardi Gras events, consider participating in one of two fundraisers that will benefit LARC.

The nonprofit, which supports about 300 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, relies on income from reselling donated Mardi Gras beads. It also provides about a dozen jobs for their clients, who sort through and repackage for LARC’s Beads-N-More store.

“The community has been absolutely wonderful,” said Carthy Guillet, job development manager for LARC. “As they’ve learned about what’s happening, they’ve been coming by or calling the office to offer help. It’s a wonderful thing.”

A “reverse” Mardi Gras parade will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at RISE Chiropractic in Broussard to bring in beads for LARC. People are encouraged to decorate their vehicles and throw bead donations to the business while enjoying music and Mardi Gras décor. The business at 805B Albertson Parkway is also accepting bead donations through Mardi Gras Day.

On Mardi Gras Day, Café Habana City at 911 Bertrand Drive is donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of Cuban sandwiches to the nonprofit.

Learn more at lafayettelarc.org.