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The parade was organized by the Opelousas Imperial Mardi Gras Association.

Photos by FREDDIE HERPIN, Photographer

Contributing Writer

Up and down Landry Street there was unanimous agreement among the crowd that it was a good day for a parade.

Noon-day temperatures in sun-splashed Opelousas rose to near 70 degrees, as mostly unmasked Mardi Gras revelers dressed in traditional green, gold and purple stood on the sidewalks and came prepared to retrieve beads, candy and trinkets thrown from an array of homemade floats.

If bead-catching was the focus, most were not disappointed as the hour-long Opelousas Mardi Parade moved slowly Tuesday through the center of the city’s historic district.

Some twirled their umbrellas and danced to the zydeco and hip-hop sounds blasted from parade vehicles, while others brought bags to stash items being hurled off floats which in many cases were pickup truck-towed utility trailers packed with bead throwers.

Motorcycle routines were performed in orchestrated circles by police officers from Alexandria, Pineville, Natchitoches and the St. Landry Sheriff’s Department.

Fred Benoit was a parade watcher with girl friend Betty and a couple of in-laws
Fred Benoit was a parade watcher with girl friend Betty and a couple of in-laws
Wilda and Nariba Fontenot of Lawtell caught some beads.
Wilda and Nariba Fontenot of Lawtell caught some beads.

Looking through his sunglasses at the scene in front of him was Frank Benoit, 82 of Opelousas, who was there with girl-friend Betty and friends.

“Usually we would go to Eunice, but we decided to come here. It’s my first one in Opelousas. The crowd is friendly here and I’m just here for a good time,” Benoit said, as he cradled a tall can of beer.

Opelousas resident Frank Artigue was positioned in front of St. Landry Bank And Trust Company as his grandchildren raked in items thrown their way.

“This is really a good community event. I think they did a really nice job of putting this on. We decided to come here instead of other places,” said Artigue, before he, wife Jan, daughter Jenny and grandchildren Levi and Willie headed to their vehicle several blocks from the parade route.

Wilda Fontenot and daughter Shareba Fontenot of Lawtell might have normally been in Lafayette Tuesday for a series of parades, but Wilda Fontenot said they decided to join the hundreds that were scattered along Landry.

“I’m really enjoying myself. I’m impressed by the large number of people who are out here. I think a lot of that has to do with the weather. It’s beautiful and you don’t really need a jacket,” Fontenot said.

Where she visited for the remainder of Mardi Gras was undecided, Wilda Fontenot said.

“I just go where (Shareba) goes. She’s my driver. I just hope we stop where there’s some gumbo. I might not see much chicken and sausage for a while,” Fontenot said.