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Champagnes enjoying reign over Krewe of Lul

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / February 9, 1998

LULING – For Mae and Rene Champagne, something clicked that day 44years ago. Now the 1998 King and Queen of the Krewe of Lul arecelebrating their lifelong love of each other and with the town of Luling.

The couple were childhood neighbors, but Rene, being seven years older,didn’t really appreciate Mae until he returned from military service.”When he came back, he found out I grew up,” Mae recalls with a smile.

“He used to sing in the choir. He saw me and asked for a date.”

They were engaged two days later and married six months after that. Now,with children Regina Labat, Gay Prindle and Rennie Champagne and theirsix grandchildren ranging in age from 5 to 13, they will celebrate theirlifelong love affair as the 1998 Lul royalty.The parade is scheduled Feb. 21 at 1 p.m.

Tonight, the couple will be feted and crowned at the Lul Ball in theEsperanza Room, beginning at 8 p.m.

Mae Aucoin Champagne is the daughter of Marie St. Amant Aucoin, 95, andthe late Eugene Aucoin, originally from Napoleonville. Rene’s parents,originally from Lafourche Crossing, came to Luling in the 1920s, planningto sharecrop at Ellington Plantation. However, the 1929 sugar mill fireended that plan.

With her backyard on Sugarhouse Road and his backyard one block over onMilling, the two families came to know one another.With marriage, he began working at Pan American Refinery until it closedits doors in 1957. Then he worked for the late Edward Dufresne Sr. atEsperanza as a jobber for Phillips 66. He’s been semi-retired for sevenyears but still drops by daily at Esperanza.She worked for Humble Oil for five years and one year for the St. CharlesSchool System then began a 24-year banking career while raising herchildren. She, likewise, is semi-retired.Now, the couple enjoys yard work, travel, dancing and their family.

Russell Lauve of the Krewe of Lul asked them last June to be the 1998royalty, and the excitement has been building ever since. As pastparticipants in the Lul parade, they’ve won several trophies in the floatcompetition. This year, though, they’ll be the center of attention.

“Our children and grandchildren are so excited!” Mrs. Champagne said.

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