Friday Night Kick-Off Parade returns with a celebration of Lafayette Parish bicentennial
Jan 25, 2023
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BY KRISTIN ASKELSON | Staff writer |THE ADVOCATE
PUBLISHED JAN 23, 2023 AT 1:24PM
A parade celebrating Lafayette Parish's bicentennial is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17, and will kick-off Mardi Gras weekend in Lafayette.
The Friday Night Kick-Off Parade will follow Lafayette’s traditional parade route starting at Pontiac Point (corner of Simcoe and Surrey Streets) and ending at Cajun Field, according to the Greater Southwest Lafayette Mardi Gras Association.
Robert Kallam, organizer and chairperson of the Friday Night Kick-Off Parade, said the parade will feature nine marching bands, law enforcement and fire vehicles/units and at least 18 floats with nearly 400 riders throwing Mardi Gras beads, throws and other items from the following participant organizations: Lafayette Consolidated Government, Town of Scott, Town of Duson, City of Broussard, City of Youngsville, City of Carencro, Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, the Louisiana Office of Tourism/Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, OneAcadiana, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, Louisiana State Fire Marshal, Rayne Frog Festival, Amite Oyster Festival, Scott Boudin Festival, Realtor Association of Acadiana, LAGCOE, Festival International de Lousiane, Festival Acadiens et Creoles, Acadian Ambulance and Beads Galore/Bead Busters.
Greater Southwest has organized Lafayette parades since 1934. The Friday kickoff event had been missing from Lafayette’s lineup for several years as organizers had merged Friday and Monday parades on Monday night. But the Friday night parade returned in 2022 and was dedicated to front-line heroes who helped battle COVID.
"Having the Friday night parade return is a wonderful addition to our Mardi Gras product," said Ben Berthelot, CEO of Lafayette Travel. "We appreciate the Greater Southwest Mardi Gras Association for all of their hard work to make this happen. It will be great to celebrate our Bicentennial at the same time and honor our past as we look forward to the future. I hope everyone will come out to support the Friday night parade."
Last year, unpleasant weather resulted in sparsely attended Friday night parade. Gerami and Kallam urge the community this year to line the parade route with posters, banners and/or other signage honoring Lafayette’s Bicentennial and our festivals.
The Friday Night Kick-off parade is underwritten, in part, by the following sponsors: Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, Lafayette’s Bicentennial Committee, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, OneAcadiana, The Haynie Family Foundation and Beads Galore/Bead Busters (Craig Spadoni).
The full Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association lineup is as follows:
Friday, Feb. 17
- Kick-off Parade honoring Lafayette’s Bicentennial and Festivals, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 18
- "Children's" Parade, Lafayette, 12:30 p.m. (featuring Krewe of Camelot, Krewe d’Amusement, Krewe des Jeunes Amis, Krewe of Versailles, Krewe of Troubadours, and Krewe of Oberon)
- Krewe of Bonaparte Parade, Lafayette, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 20
- Monday Night Parade Honoring Queen Evangeline LXXXIV, Lafayette, 6 p.m. (featuring Krewe of Triton, Krewe of Attakapas, Krewe of Xanadu, Krewe of Victoria, Krewe of Troubadours, Krewe d’Argent, Krewe of Bon Amis, Krewe de Rendevous, Krewe of Karencro, Krewe of Apollo, and Krewe of Olympus)
Tuesday, Feb. 21
- King Gabriel's Parade, Lafayette, 10 a.m.
- Lafayette Mardi Gras Festival Parade, Lafayette, 1 p.m.
- Independent Parade, Lafayette, 2:30 pm
- Greater Southwest Pageant and Grand Ball, 8 p.m. (Heymann Performing Arts Center)