Lake Charles Mardi Gras Day 1

The Mardi Gras celebration in southwest Louisiana is the second largest celebration in Louisiana behind New Orleans, so I would say that it is a pretty big deal here. We went to the Lake Charles Civic Center Saturday around lunch time for the gumbo cook-off. Apparently Mardi Gras krewes face off to see which krewe makes the best gumbo. People who want to try gumbo and other Mardi Gras treats pay $5 and can have as much gumbo and king cake and other sides as they want. Pretty good deal if you ask me!

Austin with some gumbo

When we first arrived, the room was packed full of people- most in costume or at least matching T-shirts. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing, and I was just not quite sure what to do. Do we pay for the big bowls of gumbo? Do we have to go up and ask or something? We walked through the thick crowd on one side of the room, and there was not any food out to try. I was confused about how this all worked, because everyone seemed to have bowls of gumbo and other food but I did not see where they were being served. Turns out, the gumbo tasting and judging was going on when we arrived, so half of the krewes were not yet serving gumbo as they awaited the judging. We went by a krewe that had a Hawaiian theme going on and they gave us plastic leis and a cupcake for Landon.  When we had gone all the way around, we realized that some krewes on the other side were actually serving food, so I went to go find some grub while Austin tried to find a spot to sit. I was successful… he was not. 

Landon was a little overwhelmed with all the people and noise. 

One thing that we were really surprised with is that they were all serving giant bowls of gumbo with rice in the bottom, not little tasting cups. There were chicken gumbos, seafood gumbos, sausage gumbos, BBQ flavored gumbos, smoky gumbos, and spicy gumbos. We could not get Landon to try any of them so he ate PB&J and an applesauce pouch. He certainly missed out. Austin’s favorite was the BBQ, smoky flavored gumbo. My favorite was the spicy chicken and sausage gumbo. While we were inside, there was music blaring over a sound system and no seating, so we were standing in the middle of the room eating bowls and bowls of gumbo. We heard an announcement that there were more krewe booths outside! We made a beeline for the outdoors mostly to get out of the noisy, overwhelming room. The weather outside was a perfect 70 degrees and we enjoyed a little more room and more gumbo and king cake out there.

Chicken and sausage gumbo

The king cake booth
Giant slice of king cake

After eating as much delicious gumbo as possible, I had a slice of king cake. My favorite had a cherry filling and chocolate frosting on top. The dough is kind of like doughnut or danish tasting. There is a “baby” hidden in the king cake that represents baby Jesus. Whoever finds the trinket in their slice of king cake is the king or queen of the day, has good luck, and has to purchase the king cake for the next year or host the next Mardi Gras party. This piece pictured does not have colored sugar on it, but most of the king cakes have green, purple and yellow colored sugar sprinkled on them for more Mardi Gras spirit.

I-10 bridge from Bord du Lac park
Krewe float

After gumbo and king cake eating we walked around the Bord du Lac park in Lake Charles. The bridge that we cross to get to Lake Charles from our hotel in Sulphur is steep and very high for the body of water that it crosses. So I took a picture of it. We made our way over to the awesome pirate ship park that I talked about in a different post and Landon played there for a long time. We got him to go up in the silo tower thing and go down a long, dark twirly slide. He loved it so much he slid down it over and over and over again. After awhile, we pulled him away from the park to see the Krewe of Omega parade. We walked to the start of the parade to find some good seats.

In the parade, there were royalty from some of the pageants, some fraternities and sororities, and krewe floats. No bands in this parade, although they didn’t need it because all the groups were blasting music out of speakers they had installed in the floats! They threw candy, beads, cups, and other trinkets, but we were not alone on the side of the street this time so we didn’t hoard as much as other parades. 

Look at these cute little kids!

This old ice cream truck was completely stuffed full of speakers and the amount of noise coming out was deafening.

Landon was not as tired at the parade on this day, so he would not stay in the stroller. He sat down on the curb between Austin and I and waited for people to throw things. Then he would retrieve the pieces of candy or beads and sit back down on the curb. He did a great job not going too far into the street, and always gave us the candy instead of unwrapping it quickly and eating it, which is what I expected him to do!


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