LAKE ARTHUR, La. (KLFY) — Most Mardi Gras festivities across Acadiana are skipping 2021, but Lake Arthur is finding a way to continue its parade this weekend.
Organizers are choosing to run the parade will run through the neighboring community of Thornwell because the Lake Arthur Chief Police Kobi Turner did not feel parading through town would be safe.
Lake Arthur Councilman Auldon Robinson said two concerns guided the chief’s decision: the state of the pandemic and the town not being able to police such a large event alone.
“The Mardi Gras situation here has been a big part of the culture of Lake Arthur and Louisiana, but it comes also with some other problems,” Robinson explained.
Crowds, crime, and COVID are all reasons the Lake Arthur Mardi Gras Parade won’t actually be in town.
Councilman Robinson told News 10, “The chief of police had some concerns whether or not his agency could actually handle that, and we’ve reached out to other local agencies for assistance, and due to the pandemic, they are not willing to lend a hand with sending officers to assist.”
Parade organizers found a way to move to the neighboring town of Thornwell. Organizer Karen Hayes said the small HWY 380 community a convenient, low traffic area where there’s more than enough room to spread out.
The parade starts at 2:30 P.M. Saturday and plans for a 10-mile route. Social distancing and masking protocol will be enforced with a reminder on every float. When asked about other communities deciding to cancel Mardi Gras celebrations and why they felt continuing with theirs was the right decision, Hayes said they didn’t have to go on with it but they chose to. They wanted to do it. Floats and all.
But Lake Arthur Councilman Auldon Robinson thinks his community should do as others have postponing their gathering.
“I know that there are equal differences for this type of thing, but I have to err on the side of caution,” he said. “I have to think of the safety and wellbeing of everyone.”
Robinson also works as a paramedic and has seen the worst of the pandemic firsthand. He says even if one person dies or becomes seriously ill celebrating Mardi Gras, it’s not worth having it all.
“Think about this disease, and this illness, and the lives that it has claimed. I think we should at least practice doing the right thing. And next year, I’m all for Mardi Gras if the threat has been diminished,” Robinson concluded.