Wet Weather Couldn’t Deter Two Weekend Parades in Shreveport
Tourism officials estimate at least 40% of all the visitors travel from outside the area just for Mardi Gras parades, some from destinations far and wide.
Tens of thousands of people converged on Northwest Louisiana over the weekend for the African American Parade Celebration and the Krewe of Centaur Parade on Saturday [February 3]. Cold, wet conditions did little to deter the giant Centaur Parade, as it wound its way from downtown five miles south to the Duck Pond in Shreveport’s Broadmoor neighborhood.
The earlier start time of 2:45 p.m. meant dusk settled over the parade just as the final floats rolled by at 6 o’clock, all part of the city’s safety plan to limit the amount of darkness. And the rain subsided, allowing large numbers of parade-goers to flock to the parade-route, shortly before Centaur’s floats began to light up as day soon transitioned to night.
Tourism officials estimate at least 40% of all the visitors travel from outside the area just for Mardi Gras parades, some from destinations far and wide. That includes Teresa Medina and her three small children, who didn’t let the wet conditions dampen their spirits. “No, we didn’t care about the rain. We flew all the way from California here to see this [on] the first day [of their trip]. We came to visit my friend, my friend Emily. That’s the only friend I have here. She told me about it and I brought my kids. I flew with my two boys and my baby girl.”
Centaur’s 500+ members each bring their own haul of cups, beads, doubloons, not to mention the 43,000 specialty items ranging from toys to footballs. In all, it totals more than 2,000,000 beads alone. As for the most unique throw people came across: “Best part was the plunger. They threw a plunger.” “A real plunger?” “A real plunger, that works,” said a smiling Chris Hansche.
For Hansche, the Centaur Parade was a real family affair, joined by his wife Sara, their 6-year-old triplets Jackson. Beau and Rhett, along with daughter Sadie and boyfriend Aiden. Hansche described why the rain didn’t scare them off: “No, not really. I mean, I was watching the radar. We came out a little bit later. But we live right over here. So, we were able to practically walk up here. So, we just waited till the rain cleared and came out. It’s really hard to make Louisianans not come out to a parade.”
African American Parade Celebration
Hours earlier, the weather conditions were far less cooperative for the 36th annual African American Parade Celebration in downtown Shreveport. Despite the rain and cold conditions on Saturday morning, many parade-goers braved the harsh conditions to show their support. This year’s theme was African Americans and the Arts.
The parade is a kickoff event for Black History Month. Organizers describe the parade as the largest of its kind in the country in February. Longtime faith leader Bishop Larry Brandon explained why the African American Parade Celebration is so important. “It is the largest African American History parade in the country. And I am certainly grateful to God, to be a part of this history making opportunity uniting everyone. And that’s what’s so important.”