‘You need to continue this legacy’: The history behind the second oldest Mardi Gras celebration in La.
NEW ROADS, La. (WAFB) - A historic Mardi Gras celebration will take place in New Roads next week.
Fat Tuesday will mark the 100th anniversary of The Community Center of Pointe Coupee Krewe. The Krewe is the second oldest in Louisiana and owns bragging rights as the second largest in the state.
Mardi Gras has become such a big piece of Louisiana culture, but in this small town, it’s almost bigger than life.
”We started in 1922. We started by my great-grandfather. His name was Jimmy Boudreaux,” said Cassandra Will.
With a top hat and a vision, a Mardi Gras tradition was born in New Roads.
”He started out with a wagon, a mule drawn-wagon float and one band,” said Will. You can imagine Mardi Gras then was nowhere near the kind of celebration we see it today. Cassandra Will shared those humble beginnings.
“My mom would tell us that they would tie crepe paper on these trucks, and they’d have the brass band, and he would dance in the parade, he would clown, he would wear a top hat and all this kind of stuff, and it would be men with a sheet carrying a sheet. These men would carry the sheet and people would throw money into the sheet and that’s what they would use to fund the parade for the following year,” said Will.
As a direct descendent of Boudreaux, Will knew she had to carry the torch.
”My people would keep stressing to us, ‘your great-grandfather started this, and you need to continue his legacy,’” said Will. However, the ride to get this point wasn’t always smooth sailing.
”I’m happy, but I get emotional because I didn’t think it was going to happen,” said Wilmer Moore. Wilmer Moore is the Krewe’s current vice president. He was the Mardi Gras King in 1980 and Parade Grand Marshall in 2015.
There were years he thought this wouldn’t survive, but there was something about this krewe that made him maintain hope.
”I’ve seen prominent entities startup with good causes, and they die on a vine. Either for lack of funding or people lose interest, but this is very special,” said Moore.
Moore believes the reason why they have survived this long is because of the family dynamic, but if anybody can explain it, it’s Brian Costello.
”This is the only thing that continued, and this is what put New Roads on the map,” said Costello. Costello is a savant of sorts. He’s one of the Krewe’s historians, and believe it or not, he started keeping track of this parade when he was a only kid.
”Even as a kid, people thought that I was crazy, but I’d always have a piece of paper, and I’d right down how many floats, and how many bands to keep as a record,” said Costello.
You can call him a walking encyclopedia, and the pictures of past parades are all bookmarks in his memory. ”They’re like links in a chain, or they’re jewels in a piece of jewelry,” said Costello.
After a rough two years of dealing with COVID, Costello getting the chance to celebrate this milestone feels like destiny.
“In so many of the smaller communities, your children go to college, and they don’t come back, but they come back for Mardi Gras. And they bring their kids to experience what we did,” said Costello. “At the end, everything works out. It’s an affirmation of community.”
The parade will be held on Mardi Gras day, March 1, 2022, at 11 a.m. The parade begins at Rosenwald Elementary School in New Roads.
Our very own Greg Meriwether will be the Grand Marshall for this year’s parade, and you can look out for other familiar faces from WAFB, plus the Titan9 Storm Tracker. Southern University Marching Band, the “Human Jukebox” will march in the parade.
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