Mardi Gras Celebrations Planned in and Around the Upper East Side of Texas
Lots of dressed-up people drive and walk along the parade route at the 2016 Grand Krewe of Hebe Mardi Gras parade in Jefferson to entertain the crowds.
Photo by Tracy Torma
When it comes to “letting the good times roll,” the Upper East Side of Texas takes a cue from our Louisiana neighbors with numerous celebrations.
Mardi Gras, also called Fat Tuesday, is a time to feast and live it up prior to heading into the Lenton season of penitence, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The timing is based on the lunar calendar used by the Catholic Church to determine the date of Easter. Before all that fasting, it is a tradition for many to attend carnivals and other celebrations for their last night of eating richer, fatty foods, and other indulgences. This year, Fat Tuesday falls on February 13 and organizers are using the weekend, and even weeks before, to hold events.
A number of Texas cities on the Upper East Side and in nearby Shreveport-Bossier celebrate Mardi Gras with parades, concerts, and the opportunity to taste great Louisiana delicacies. Here’s a roundup of activities planned this year.
Taste of New Orleans
Palestine ends its day-long Taste of New Orleans event with a Mardi Gras parade, which starts at the Anderson County Courthouse and winds through the historic Main Street District. Photo by Stuart Whitaker
Palestine’s Taste of New Orleans is an annual celebration of Louisiana-style cuisine and music. Hosted by downtown businesses, the event showcases both the talents of local chefs and the city’s historic buildings. Visitors enjoy free food demonstrations at numerous downtown locations starting at 11:30 a.m. and rolling until 5:30 p.m. There are Cajun dance lessons where guests can swing to the Zydeco beat and the Trinity Valley Junior College jazz band performs at 4:30 p.m. at the historic Redlands Inn downtown. The 9th Annual Mardi Gras Parade, starts at 6 p.m. at the historic Anderson County Courthouse and runs through the Main Street district.
Mardi Gras Up River
Mardi Gras Queen Amanda Turner waves at thousands of revelers attending the 2016 Grand Krewe of Hebe Mardi Gras Parade in Jefferson. Photo by Tracy Torma
On Sunday of Mardi Gras weekend in Jefferson, visitors enjoy a children’s parade. Photo by Hollis Shaden
Mardi Gras was celebrated in Jefferson back in the mid-19th century when, as the largest inland port in Texas, it had direct ties with New Orleans. But the celebration ended when the town’s tremendous steamboat commerce stopped after the Corps of Engineers successfully blasted away a huge logjam on the Red River in the late 1870s, ending the riverboat trade.
In 1998, Jefferson resurrected its Mardi Gras celebration, and the party only gets bigger and better each year.
The festivities kick off on Friday, February 9, with the Doo Dah Parade, a zany event where everyone is invited to dress in their craziest Mardi Gras costumes and join in the fun. Afterwards, enjoy the music of What the Funk, a Northwest Louisiana band playing on the Main Stage downtown. The music continues all day on Saturday, February 10, featuring a variety of bands, from Zydeco to party music, and continues on Sunday, February 11.
The main attraction – the Krewe of Hebe Grand Mardi Gras Parade – starts at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, February 10, with a motorcycle parade, followed at 2 p.m. by the Grand Parade featuring more than an hour of floats, bands, and bead-throwing mania. On Sunday, a Children’s Parade at 2 p.m. features many of the same floats without the crowds. There’s also a Children’s Costume Contest, a Paws & Claws Pet Parade (immediately following the Children’s Parade) with an Ugly Dog Contest, Pet Look Alike and Best Pet Costume Contest. For more information, visit mardigrasupriver.com.
The City of Henderson celebrates Mardi Gras on its historic Heritage Square with its 4th Annual Gumbo Cook-off on Saturday, February 10. Gumbo taste tickets are $10 and will be sold at the event, which includes a Beer and Wine Garden and features real Cajun music by a Zydeco band from Louisiana. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Downtown Heritage Square.
For more information or to enter a gumbo cook-off team, contact Judy Lewis at 902.657.6551.
Mardi Gras Krewes
January 5 - February 10
Mardi Gras Bash is a rockin’ party located along the route of the Krewe of Centaur Parade XXVII in downtown Shreveport February 3. Groups of 10 or more get VIP treatment including access to a climate-controlled party tent, live music, Cajun food, king cake, t-shirt, and more. Photo courtesy of Shreveport-Bossier CVB
Shreveport and Bossier City welcome more than a half-million parade goers for family-friendly fun starting in January.
The earliest major parade on Shreveport-Bossier’s annual Carnival calendar is the Krewe of Harambee Martin Luther King Jr. Day Mardi Gras Parade, a huge musical parade that marches through downtown Shreveport at 1 p.m. on Monday, January 15.
Other Mardi Gras parades include:
The Krewe of Centaur Parade XXVII, one of the largest parades in Louisiana, is held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 3. In conjunction is the 12th Annual Red River Mardi Gras Bash offering VIP treatment and behind-the-scenes access for groups of 10 or more. For $40 guests get access to a climate-controlled party tent, live music, Cajun food, king cake, a commemorative Mardi Gras bead and t-shirt, and get to meet krewe royalty and take guided tours of the parade route.
The Krewe of Barkus and Meoux Pet Parade, featuring hundreds of ornately costumed dogs, cats, ponies, chickens, and other pets, begins at noon on Sunday, February 4 at 2000 Reeves Marine Center in Bossier City.
The final major parade weekend of carnival season in Shreveport-Bossier begins with the Krewe of Gemini Grand Parade XXIX at 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 10.
The Krewe of Highland Parade XXIII, a quirky neighborhood parade, held annually on the Sunday afternoon following the Krewe of Gemini Parade, begins at 2 p.m.
For more information – including downloadable brochures, special Mardi Gras offers from hotels, and more – visit ShreveportMardiGras.org or call 800.551.8682.