Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 6, 2010


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Just as the local masses are beginning to relax from the New Orleans Saints historic run to the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras kicks into high gear in the River Parishes.

On Sunday, Feb. 14, Krewe du Monde takes to the streets of LaPlace for its 36th annual parade. The parade organization’s theme for the year is “du Monde celebrates ‘The Duke’” in tribute to actor John Wayne.

Parade Chairperson Melynie Wright said this year’s parade boasts more than 650 riders aboard 30 floats of various sizes. Much like last year, Wright said the parade would include floats of 20, 30, 40 and 50 people.

Wright described du Monde as a true community parade, where organizations and businesses band together as a “mini-krewe” to purchase a spot in the parade. Each krewe comes up with a theme related to the float they ride on and the floats and riders are judged by a random group of community members, who will be scoping out the floats from various parts of the route.

“The judges look at the costumes and how they relate to the theme of the float,” said Wright. “The riders’ spirit and behavior on the float is also judged. We want to make sure everyone is having a good time, and no one is getting out of control.”

In addition to the floats, Wright said the parade includes nine local dance groups and 18 king and queen vehicles. There will also be a series of fire vehicles from the Eastside, Westside and Garyville fire departments.

Wright explained du Monde, which is run by the Lions Club, is the “parade with a purpose,” in that members contribute time, energy and money to various charities in the area. One in particular plays right in to the parade’s theme.

“We have partnered this year with the Therapeutic Riding Center of St. John,” Wright said. “The group takes special needs and disabled children and takes them for horseback rides in an effort to build social skills and offer therapy. It goes hand in hand with our John Wayne theme.

In addition to the philanthropic efforts throughout the year, Wright said the parade allows a large group of special needs kids to ride on the leadoff float. She said spectators should once again be on the lookout for special multi-colored baby lions that the kids on the Lions float will throw out to the crowd.

The parade lines up and begins at Highway 51 near Airline Highway. The procession travels south down Old Highway 51 toward West Fifth Street, turns right on Hemlock Street and rolls into the subdivision at Carrolwood Drive. The parade concludes at Fairway and Belle Terre boulevards.