Mardi Gras 'fever' strikes Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana will be celebrating its tricentennial, dubbed FrancoFete 99, next year, and the state's French heritage will be paid special honors during Mardi Gras.

From colorful, freewheeling celebrations in the streets to formal masquerade balls, Mardi Gras here in the capital or in New Orleans is a festive time when parades begin early and continue past sundown.

But Mardi Gras fever strikes in other Louisiana towns, too.

  • La Fete Francaise Au Zoo, in Monroe on Feb. 6, is a daylong event involving local schools and other civic organizations highlighting Louisiana's French heritage. This event will serve as a prelude to the Krewe of Janus' annual Mardi Gras parade.
  • On the same day in Shreveport, the Krewe of Centaur's parade will have a "Treasures of Louisiana" theme.
  • A Mardi Gras race will be scheduled in Elton on Feb. 13. The race begins at sunrise with costumed riders on horseback traveling from house to house, looking for ingredients for the communal gumbo, a tradition brought to Louisiana by the Acadians in the 1750s. A dance will be held in the evening.
  • On the same day in Moncla, there will be a parade followed by festivities on community center grounds.
  • New Iberia has its Courir Le Mardi Gras on Feb. 16, which features costume contests; free boudin, a spicy Cajun sausage, or pudding; gumbo, and dancing.
  • Courir de Mardi Gras in Church Point, is another place where, on Feb. 14, masked riders gather for gumbo ingredients.
  • In New Roads, the 56th annual Lions Club parade is expected to draw 60,000 spectators on Feb. 16.
  • Mardi Gras in Mamou is a Cajun-style event with costumed men on horseback chasing chickens as well as collecting food for the communal gumbo. Music and dance also is part of the Feb. 16 event.
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