It all starts with a fiddle and a dance. Add in the accordion and the centuries old Mardi Gras tradition comes alive once again. The Fat Tuesday celebration in Mamou, Louisiana is unlike any other. No beads. No floats. But plenty of fun.
“There’s no other place you can come on a Tuesday morning, dance around with a bunch of drunks, and play music and just have a good time,” said Christian McGee, who got the party started Tuesday morning with his fiddle.
Several dozen revelers gathered early Tuesday morning, setting out around 8 a.m. for their annual ride. They paraded through town, dancing on their horses and creating a little happy chaos.
“Watch the horses, respect the horses, and respect the drunks,” laughed Lelia Bordelon, who has participated in the Mamou celebration for more than four decades.
Their first stop Tuesday was a nursing home. The riders danced, climbed on top of the building, and said thanks to those who first taught them how to let the good times roll.
Up next, it was time to make the gumbo. In the past, the riders went from door to door, collecting ingredients. From that tradition emerged the main event: the chicken chase. Riders run through the mud, trying to nab the bird.
“I catch a chicken every year,” said Gavin Brignac. “Most I ever caught was three, and this is my first one today.”
The celebration has evolved over time though. They no longer cook the birds they catch, but the tradition remains alive, ready to be passed on to the next generation.
“That's what we do. We drink beer and chase chickens and dance,” Brignac said.
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