OUR VIEW: Mardi Gras a family affair in Terrebonne, Lafourche – let’s keep it that way

Here in the Bayou Region, we like to claim we have one of the more family friendly Carnival celebrations around.

And for the most part, we live up to that reputation.

Just compare a photo of St. Charles Street in Houma compared to St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, and clearly our Mardi Gras is much more geared toward families and children.

However, a very embarrassing speed bump hit that reputation this Carnival season as the king of a Mardi Gras parade has been cited as a sex offender and arrested in connection with wearing a mask while riding in a Mardi Gras float last year – a violation for a registered sex offender.

Sex offenders are also barred from wearing hoods or disguises or giving of candy or other gifts.

The intent of the law – of course – was to keep sex offenders away from participating in Mardi Gras parades.

Because who rides on a float without wearing some kind of mask, hood, disguise or without handing out candy or gifts in the form of beads or doubloons?

Well, apparently the king of a parade, who traditionally doesn’t cover his face and doesn’t throw trinkets to the viewing public, falls within a loophole of the law.

Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter stated in an interview to The Times that his deputies would arrest Glynn Matherne if he would attempt to board the float Saturday as king of the Krewe of Mardi Gras.

Fortunately, Matherne told The Times following his release from jail Monday afternoon that he would not attempt to ride in the parade. That alleviates a huge concern, one which would have been an abomination of common sense and decency, had it come to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office having to make a public arrest as Matherne attempted to board the most prestigious float of Houma’s only Saturday-before-Mardi-Gras parade.

Despite the details of what he was convicted participating in and has participated in previous rollings of the Krewe of Mardi Gras as well as being a member of the Selucrey Sophistocats, a group that interacts with many women and children, handing them plastic flowers and beats walking the parade route, it is commendable that Matherne made the decision to pull himself from any further controversy.

Many vulnerable members of our society enjoy Mardi Gras parades. And regardless of how long ago Matherne committed the crime or if he’s participated in Mardi Gras parades since without further incident, it would send the wrong message not only to the Bayou Region, but other reaches of southeastern Louisiana, if he were to continue participating.

We covet our family-oriented Mardi Gras.

Let’s keep it that way.