What’s your first thought when you hear the words Mardi Gras? Do you think Bourbon Street? While that craziness might be what makes the national headlines each year, that’s not the whole story. I just got home from celebrating Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and the experience shattered my stereotypes!
In fact, I think if we all adopted a little Lake Charles Mardi Gras culture, the world would be a far friendlier place!
In no particular order, here are five lessons we all can learn from Mardi Gras, Lake Charles style.
At Lake Charles Mardi Gras, Tradition matters.
Thousands of years ago, before papyrus and the written word, history was preserved through storytelling and tradition.
At Mardi Gras “Lake Charles style,” especially in rural festivals throughout Southwestern Louisiana (SWLA), Chicken Run Festivals preserve tradition going back to the middle ages when the poor would run from landowner to landowner asking for provisions to make gumbo.
The landowner would offer chicken, pork, onion and other ingredients to these masked marauders.
Today’s tradition continues much the same way, with zydeco dancing, chicken chasing, and masked fun that entire communities enjoy.
At the Lake Charles Mardi Gras, community counts.
After reading about the Chicken Run Festivals, maybe you’re not surprised to hear that community counts in Louisiana.
Mardi Gras in Lake Charles brings large groups together.
And it’s not just in January and February, but throughout the year.
Planning parties, fund raisers and other events build camaraderie.
Then, throughout Mardi Gras in Lake Charles it’s one big celebration of community and connectedness.
Imagine if the rest of us knew our neighbors that well!
Family rituals are important at Mardi Gras celebrations
In Louisiana, boudin and gumbo are king! So is zydeco.
But above all is family!
The littlest Lake Charles Mardi Gras revelers learn it all as grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins join in, just as they have for hundreds of years.
The Louisianans I met don’t seem interested in catered meals. It’s the real deal around these parts, passed down from one generation to the next, and the kids love every bit of it!
Lake Charles Mardi Gras is laid back!
I can’t say one of these lessons is more important than the others, but if I had to pick one, this is it!
Mardi Gras floats and costumed revelers might be elaborate, but the celebrations are low stress!
Forget the Pinterest-worthy centerpieces molded out of sugar paste and imported feathers.
Just toss some Mardi Gras beads in the middle of the table next to the hot sauce and napkin pile and call the party palace ready.
Most people have beads they’ve collected through the years and costumes worn with age, but still so festive and cherished.
In Lake Charles, Louisiana, people understand what’s most important.
And, impressing the neighbors with fancy decor ain’t it!
Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Of course, when you combine centuries of tradition with close-knit communities and even tighter bonded families who know what matters, it’s easy to let the good times roll!
I’m not surprised that Louisiana is home to the happiest people in the United States.
They aren’t worried about keeping up with the Joneses, they just love ‘em!
Reflecting on my Mardi Gras experience, it is truly one of the best moments in my life. The people I met there have remained friends for many years since. I’ve watched families expand and kids grow, and I smile as I see that real joy keep shining through!
If you’re considering attending a Mardi Gras event, but you’re not sure you’re quire ready for New Orleans and Bourbon Street, then consider the Lake Charles Mardi Gras. It’s heart-warming and about as fun as a community wide party can be!
The Lake Charles Children’s Parade is an especially family friendly, alcohol free event.
Some events might require advance ticket purchases. Check here for the complete Lake Charles Mardi Gras calendar of events and more!