Places & Faces
40 Years of Mardi Gras Revelry
2/4/2019 12:18:16 PM
Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras began having a presence in Lake Charles as early as 1895, but it was in 1979 that Anne and Dr. Lee J. Monlezun formed the Krewe of Krewes organization. This season, Krewe of Krewes is celebrating its 40-year anniversary. Lake Charles is home to an impressive 60-70 krewes and is the 2nd largest Mardi Gras in the state. From small town courir de Mardi Gras trail rides and chicken runs to parades and the pageantry of balls and the Royal Gala, Mardi Gras is a party you won’t want to miss!

The Spirit of SWLA Mardi Gras:The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu 

by Stefanie Powers

The exuberant season known as Mardi Gras is upon us here in Southwest Louisiana. Twelfth Night (January 6) marked the beginning of the revels, which include fabulous krewe balls, parades, parties, chicken runs and so much more. Our area boasts the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana, and there’s something for everyone!

This season will be a long one, with Fat Tuesday falling on March 5. This gives everyone plenty of time to partake in all the fun. And we know the best place to start!

The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu is a hidden gem in downtown Lake Charles, located on the second floor of the Central School Arts and Humanities Center. Established in 1998, the museum has six rooms filled with memorabilia starting from the earliest days of Southwest Louisiana’s Mardi Gras, along with a large collection of lavish court costumes, all previously worn by Lake Area krewe royalty.

The initial Mardi Gras celebration was held in 1895 with a parade that started at the loading docks of the lake (the present-day location of the Civic Center), proceeded through the town and then ended up back to the docks where residents enjoyed a community dance. 

The very first krewe was the Krewe of Cosmos, founded in 1951. Gradually, other krewes were formed in Southwest Louisiana and by 1979, Anne Monlezun, co-founder of Krewe de la Famille with her husband, Lee J., formed the Krewe of Krewes organization so that krewes could join together to create a Fat Tuesday parade for the community.

Museum Director David Faulk points out that the Krewe of Krewes celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and there will be something special at the museum to honor this milestone. "We are also working on some improvements throughout the museum at the moment that we are excited about,” he continues. 
If you don’t know much about Mardi Gras, that will all change when you take a tour. And even if it’s all very familiar to you, you will definitely learn something new by the time you leave. 

What makes the museum so unique is that it appeals to everyone—from children to senior citizens, and it’s a popular field trip destination for area students. 

The museum covers it all: the history of Mardi Gras and its traditions, krewes, king cakes, music, Twelfth Night, Fat Tuesday, parades, throws—you name it. There are photos, videos and news clippings from years past, a parade float that everyone can climb aboard, and a special Captain's Den dedicated to krewe captains. Dazzling costumes spill out into the long hallway. It truly is a feast for the eyes.

So, come to The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu and immerse yourself in the colorful world of Carnival in Southwest Louisiana. And laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, 809 Kirby Street, Lake Charles, LA (337) 430-0043. Tuesday - Saturday: 1-5 p.m. Adults: $10; Children and Senior Citizens: $5; Large group rate: $4.

Posted by: Stefanie Powers | Submit comment | Tell a friend


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