Our View: Carnival reflections
We are now full-tilt toward the Fat Tuesday culmination of this year’s Carnival season, with an apex of the revelry and pageantry that marks the Bayou Region’s annual inundation with the inane.
In Houma and Thibodaux, Golden Meadow, Montegut and Chauvin crowds have flocked to the streets for a chance to observe and be part of the greatest free show on earth, rivaled only by the hijinks of New Orleans and its environs, which is for many who live here a perfectly acceptable state of affairs, d would not wish to have it any other way.
The members of the region’s various krewes and clubs have gone through great personal expense to make sure there are enough doubloons and cups, plush toys and rubber-headed arrows and small rubber footballs to help everyone who shows up for a parade feel like winners as they cart all kinds of useless stuff home.
Throughout this Carnival celebration as in years gone by, government officials and the employees who work for them are doing an exemplary job of crowd and traffic control as well as crime containment when the throngs are at their most challenging.
The police cannot be everywhere at once, that’s a given.
And despite the fact that some people say they should, the police are not gifted with the second sight, and so cannot predict where and when all problems will pop up. But from what we have so far observed, when trouble comes they arrive quickly, and take what steps the situation dictates.
Our region can also be proud that its Carnival parades are still considered family-friendly, each steeped in its own tradition of fun and ritual. Yes, there have been instances of foul song lyrics blasting from speakers. But those situations were dealt with rapidly. Some float riders still power-throw bags of beads at the minions thronging below them, a clear violation of the rules. The deputies and police officers, again, have been quick to respond and remove riders when necessary.
Bad behavior by some certainly has an effect on those in close proximity, and is unfortunate. But our local officials seem to have struck a balance between doing what must be done to preserve order in events that by their very nature are counter to that, and taking the fun away from everyone else.
During the course of the year there are meetings between the sheriffs and police chiefs to critique procedures for Carnival, and each year a little something more gets refined or changed outright.
It may be time for some of those discussions to include questions on whether routes should be changed, in Houma especially. Could the business community on Martin Luther King Boulevard, for example, withstand a change to there, where parking is abundant and the street is very wide? We boast of our bigness in Houma — how our parades have grown — and yet we stay on a route that is inherently restrictive, along West Park and West Main. We are not experts on this sort of thing, but believe it may be worthy of some discussion.
Whatever changes get made in the future we certainly look forward to our beloved traditions enduring as they have been.
Unlike parades for state holidays or religious figures, to honor military heroes or for shows of patriotism, Carnival parades resonate with a joie de vivre that is unique and refreshing, no matter how many years in a row one individual living here experiences them in a lifetime. They are an expression of local culture unlike any other. They are part of the payoff that we get for living in a place that can be challenging in terms of climate and storm threat. They are all local treasures and we are happy that we are a part of them, along with everyone else.
Long live Carnival in the Bayou Region! Lessez le bon temp rouler!