Edward Habetz, 73, knows about newspaper printing. He has been responsible for making the presses roll at The Daily Advertiser for more than 50 years. Habetz has helped build and maintain the presses (four of them throughout his career) that have produced an Acadiana tradition for the past 150 years.
To celebrate that milestone, the Daily Advertiser will hold the Black, White and Read All Over Mardi Gras Ball on Jan. 24 at the Cajundome Convention Center. Habetz will reign as king, along with queen Betty Lowry, great-granddaughter of The Daily Advertiser’s founder, William Bailey.
“It’s a great honor.” Habetz said. “I’m glad to represent The Advertiser. We’ll probably have a good time.”
Habetz is a lifelong resident of Rayne and has been making the trek to work at The Daily Advertiser ever since he was 23 years old. He started when the paper used a letter press with lead plates. Back then, the molten lead was used to form molds that pressed ink onto paper.
“Each of those things weighed about 45 pounds,” recalled Habetz. “The ink would go on the letters and the letters would print onto the paper.”
These days, even though The Advertiser is printed with the help of computerized, state-of-the-art equipment, it still takes humans to help do the printing and maintain the equipment, which Habetz does.
Dave Langlinais, general manager of production, said being asked to reign as king hasn’t really fazed Habetz, who is just as down to earth as they come.
“He is loved around here,” Langinlais said. “Everybody respects him and likes him. He has lots of knowledge. Everbody picks his brain when they have a question about something. We think it’s a great thing for him. We’re so happy and proud for him.”
While he has enjoyed going to parades over the years, Habetz said he has never been involved in the pageantry part of it all. So, this year will be his first ball and his first time ever being a king.
We asked him to share a few of his royal thoughts, in light of the fact that he will be king for a day, come Jan. 24.
Question: What is your favorite Mardi Gras parade or celebration?
Answer: I like to go to Mamou where they chase the chickens. You know, they have so many activities there and the bars line the streets where the chicken run takes place.
Do you eat king cake? What is your favorite?
Oh yes. My favorite is the strawberry one from Ruddock’s Bakery in Crowley.
What will you be wearing to the Black, White and Read All Over Ball?
A tux. I have my own. I’ll wear a white dress shirt, with a red vest and of course a black tie.
Do you like to get all dressed up?
Not really. I’d rather be in my old clothes. Like my blue jeans. I love my holes in my blue jeans.
If you were king for a day, what would you decree?
I’d change some of the laws. I think there should be stricter penalties for people who get DWIs.
What is your secret to staying with the Advertiser all of these years? How did you do it?
I always liked the people I worked with. Also, it doesn’t matter what job I do, I still get paid. In the old building, I used to sweep the parking lot. It didn’t matter. I did whatever needed to be done. I also like learning things. I’ve been here 50 years and I just learned something different the other day. You know, you’re never too old to learn.
Want to go?
WHAT: Black, White and Read All Over Mardi Gras Ball presented by The Daily Advertiser
WHEN: 7 p.m. to midnight Jan. 24
WHERE: Cajundome Convention Center
ADMISSION: Tickets are $30 for subscribers, $40 for non-subscribers. Available for purchase at The Daily Advertiser offices at 1100 Bertrand in Lafayette.
From our media partners at the Advertiser