It seems like forever since we last came together to properly celebrate Mardi Gras in Cenla. Mardi Gras 2020 feels like a lifetime ago. Through it all, the spirit of revelry and excitement has been steadily building and, this year, we get to put that energy to good use. All across the area, it’s time to let the good times (finally) roll and celebrate Mardi Gras in Cenla!
The Town of Woodworth and the Echo community share the distinction as the first parades to roll on Saturday, February 19th at 1:00pm. The Echo Children’s Mardi Gras and Chicken Run Parade, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council #9294 begins and ends at St Frances de Salle Catholic Church. Immediately following the parade, the community is invited for a king cake and all-you-can-eat dine-in Gumbo dinner for just $6.00!
Just about 20 miles to the west, the Town of Woodworth Mardi Gras parade will also roll at 1:00pm, with line up at noon at the corner of Maison Rue Drive and Castor Plunge Road. The parade is free-wheeling, welcoming all entries. Wear costumes, bring your go-kart, horse, car, tractor, trailer, bike, trike or wagon. You can walk, roller blade, run, or skate. Anything goes!
The Rotary Club of Avoyelles presents fun for the whole family with its annual Krewe of Cyllenius Mardi Gras Parade in Marksville on Sunday, February 20th at 2:00pm. The parade will follow its traditional route through Marksville, beginning behind the Courthouse Atrium downtown. There is no entry fee to participate in the parade; however, all entrants must be pre-registered no later than Thursday, February 10th. Call (318) 359-3534 for more information.
Since 1994, the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association has worked diligently to provide a cultural event, appealing to all cross sections of the community, state and region, to help stimulate the economy. From the first parade, featuring 10 floats and four Krewes, the celebration has grown to a full weekend of revelry and fun, attracting enthusiastic crowds over 150,000 strong! The Alexandria Mardi Gras Association’s parades are as unique as the community from which they were born, with as many ingredients as a good gumbo. The good times roll downtown and midtown Alexandria as people from all over Central Louisiana take part in the celebration. The parades come alive with the music of middle school, high school, and college bands and masked Royalty and riders from AMGA Krewes. Each member Krewe has an opportunity to take part each year in the Krewe parade.
AMGA Parade action kicks off with the Classic Cars & College Cheerleaders Parade on Friday, February 25th at 4:30pm. As its name suggests, the Classic Cars & College Cheerleaders features classic cars paired with college cheerleaders from colleges, universities, and high schools across Central Louisiana and beyond! The parade follows the same Downtown route as the Children’s Parade, rolling up Murray Street to Fifth Street, then over to Jackson Street before turning onto its final stretch down 3rd Street.
2022 CC&CC Parade Grand Marshal is Alexandria’s own weather guru, Meteorologist Nick Mikulas. Nick moved to Alexandria “for 2 years”, 20 years ago. It was not on his “radar” as a place to settle down since he’d never been here and had always been a fan of cold air and blizzards. It’s funny what meeting a local girl can do to change those long term plans! It turns out, this town—where he didn’t know a soul—quickly became home.
Nick graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Atmospheric Sciences, and came to Alexandria to fulfill his lifelong dream of getting paid to talk about weather. He worked at KALB in Alexandria for 7 1/2 years, then left to help his wife, Kristen, run her thriving t-shirt business, Louisiana Promotions. He figured he could still talk about weather to his friends and family, and get out and chase storms and snow like in his pre-TV days, so it was a win-win. Around the time Nick left KALB, Facebook was becoming more of a mainstream way to communicate with the masses. As things usually go with Nick, he just followed his passion with very little thought, and started talking about weather on Facebook. For some reason, people liked what he was saying, so he kept doing it. In the 12 years he’s been off the airwaves, he’s covered hurricanes, snowstorms, ice storms, way too much severe weather, and chased tornadoes all over Central Louisiana. Nick’s nearly 50,000 Facebook followers rely on his expertise and experience any time severe (or just unusual) weather threatens.
Nick is thrilled to be the 2022 Grand Marshal of the Classic Cars and College Cheerleaders Parade, since his main goals in life are a happy and healthy family, and to always wear comfortable clothes. You can spot Nick in your local grocery stores, in his living room watching a show with his wife Kristen, daughter Lily, and stepson Max, or sitting in a parking lot looking at his phone because the new weather models just came out, and he can’t wait until he gets home to see them. Nick is thrilled to be a part of the Central Louisiana community, and hopes to have less weather to post about this year. We need a break!
Following the CC&CC Parade, the “Mardi Gras Ball for All Y’all” returns to the Randolph Riverfront Center in Downtown Alexandria at 7:00pm. The always delicious Taste of Mardi Gras, the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s signature carnival event, is the Mardi Gras ball for everyone! The 27th Taste will build on its rich history of raising funds for the LRA Education Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network. To date, the event has raised over a half a million dollars! The evening features over 30 restaurants from around the area providing mouth-watering selections from their menus along with delicious beverages and a cash bar for your enjoyment. “Souled Out” featuring the Cenla Brass Band will headline the night’s live entertainment. You can be one of the first to enjoy the Taste this year! VIP tickets and reserved tables offer exclusive early entry at 6:00pm. Tickets for the event are $30.00 for adults and $10.00 for children 10 years and under. VIP tickets are $75.00 per person, or $500 for a reserved table seating eight. Get your tickets early as prices go up by $10.00 on the day of the event. For tickets and more information, visit www.LRA.org.
Round out your Friday evening of Mardi Gras weekend with the Pineville Night of Lights Parade. The parade rolls at 7:00pm, beginning on College Boulevard, travelling down Main Street, crossing the Jackson Street Bridge into Alexandria, before turning onto Third Street where it ends at Alexandria City Hall. The dazzling colors of the sparkling lights that adorn the floats are always a favorite each year!
Natchitoches kicks off its Mardi Gras celebration with the Krewe of Wag-uns Children’s and Pet Parade through the Historic Downtown District on Saturday, February 26th at 3:00pm. Louisiana’s oldest city proves that Christmas isn’t the only time for lights along Cane River Lake as the Krewe of Dionysos parade rolls at 6:00pm. The parade will feature Krewe floats, community organizations, dance teams, bands, car clubs and more! The route begins at the River South Common shopping center (Stage) parking lot; turning right onto South Drive; turning left at Keyser Avenue; crossing the Keyser bridge and turning right on Jefferson Street, continuing onto Front Street; turning left onto Texas Street; and turning left onto Second Street to Church Street to end the parade route.
The AMGA 25th Annual Children’s Parade rolls at 10:00am on Saturday, February 26th, following its traditional Downtown route. The Grand Marshal for this year’s parade is Miss Louisiana’s Outstanding Teen 2021, Sophia Nawaz. Hailing from the Mardi Gras capital of the world, Sophia is a rising senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. As a Pakistani-American, she hopes to serve as a role model while promoting her platform of cultural diversity and inclusion. “I want to be a role model for those that are from different ethnicities and show them that you can be whatever you want to be and accomplish whatever you put your heart to,” says Sophia.
As the Outstanding Teen selected from Louisiana, Sophia will perform songs at the upcoming Miss Louisiana competition scheduled for June 17th through 19th in Monroe and crown the winner of the pageant. She will also go on to represent the state at the national Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition in Orlando, Florida in July. When she’s not busy winning pageants, she enjoys traveling, singing, and cooking.
Mardi Gras is really going to the dogs with the inaugural Alexandria Garden District Mardi Gras Block Party and Mutt Strut! Bring your favorite four-legged friend and come strut your stuff in the Alexandria Garden District at 1:30pm on Saturday, February 26th. It’ll be a howling good time! The pet parade and costume contest will kick off with a second line band with pets to follow. The route includes a stop at the judge’s table for review, where the distinguished panel will present awards in three categories: Most Creative Costume, Best Pet & Owner Look-alike. and Judges’ Whim. The cost to enter is just $15.00 per pet. Pre-registration is required via EventBrite.com. Search “Alexandria Garden District Mardi Gras Mutt Strut”.
The animals are also askin’ for you at Alexandria Zoo! Following the Children’s Parade will be the annual King Cake Party, starting at 2:00pm. Don your purple, green and gold and parade over to the Zoo for a wild time featuring delicious Atwood’s king cake, music, animals, and more! Regular admission rates apply. For more information, visit thealexandriazoo.com.
The Town of Ball will kick off its Mardi Gras festivities with their annual parade on Sunday, February 27th at 2:00pm. If you’ve ever wanted to participate in a Mardi Gras Parade, this is the event for you! Whether you have a cool car, regular car, truck, horse, or any type of cool vehicle, you’re encouraged to join in the fun! The route follows along Highway 165 in Ball from Certified Transmission and Powell Lane to Town Hall. For more information or to register, call (318) 442-8980.
Mardi Gras in Cenla culminates with the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association Krewe Parade rolling on Sunday at 2:00pm. Showcasing its nearly two dozen member Krewes, the Association parade is the highlight of the Mardi Gras season, rolling through the crowd-lined streets of Mid-City Alexandria! The parade begins on Texas Avenue at Levin Street and rolls all the way to Masonic Drive, making its way to Memorial Drive towards its conclusion on North Boulevard.
2022 Krewe Parade Grand Marshal Ed Oliver, Jr. is a star NFL defensive lineman with the Buffalo Bills. Though he was raised in Houston, Ed has deep Central Louisiana roots. He is the son of Marksville native Ed Oliver, Sr. and Dana Baker of Houston. Ed was rated as a consensus five-star recruit and was ranked among the top players in his class. He played college football at the University of Houston alongside his older brother, Marcus, who is currently the head football coach of Alexandria Middle Magnet. In college, Ed was selected to the Walter Camp All American first team and won the Outland Trophy, presented to the nation’s top interior lineman before his selection as the 9th overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Ed is honored to be selected as the 2022 Alexandria Mardi Gras Association Parades Grand Marshal. He has always recognized his Cenla roots and continues to immerse himself in the culture of Central Louisiana. Ed enjoys his off season by riding his horses and ATV’s and spending quality time with family. Ed has also stayed true to his commitment of giving back to the community by hosting a Turkey Giveaway, and Christmas Toy Giveaway for several years. Ed has pledged to continue seeking opportunities to help and give back to the Central Louisiana region that nurtured his early growth and development.
The Krewe parade will once again feature its Alcohol/Tobacco Free Parade Zone at the City of Alexandria Youth Complex, located on the corner of Masonic Drive and Texas Avenue. Families can enjoy the festive atmosphere in a safe area, specifically designated for a family-friendly environment. The entrance to the Alcohol/Tobacco Free Parade Zone will be via the parking lot on Babe Ruth Drive across from Bringhurst Field. Sponsored by the Louisiana Tobacco-Free Living.
As you can see, the carnival season is back in a big way! You can keep up with all the happenings at MardiGrasCenla.com. So gather friends and family and head out to one—or all—of this year’s great celebrations. It’s time to let the good times (finally!) roll for Mardi Gras in Cenla!