PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

February 8, 2013

Chickens herald the beginning of Mardi Gras

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Lakeshore Drive was lined with purple and green for the Courir de Mardi Gras on Thursday.

French for “to run,” the Courir kicks off the Mardi Gras festivities every year, reenacting the tradition of traveling from house, collecting all the ingredients necessary to make a savory gumbo.

The annual chicken chase began promptly at 5 p.m. at Rose Hill Manor. As soon as parade officials released the small banty rooster, an eager group of children gave chase.

Within a matter of minutes, 12-year-old Trevor Kimble of Bridge City lifted the bird victoriously over his head.

It wasn’t as easy as it looked, said Kimble, who caught the chicken for the first time in four years of participation.

“It was really hard to catch it,” he said. “Especially when he went into the bushes.”

“He takes after his Paw-Paw,” added Kimble’s aunt, 14-year-old Kailey Childress. “He likes chasing birds too.”

The parade kicked off with the presentation of the American Legion Post 7, which is comprised of military veterans who have served in times of war.

“We start the first parade and end the last parade,” said Wayne Newsom of Port Acres.

“No event should ever start without the colors,” said Post 7 commander “Tex” Vaughn, who lives in Port Arthur.

One float was particularly true to the parade’s 18th-century Caun start. Built by John Chirafis and friends from what can only be described as “Rita storm debris,” the float would not look out of place beside Louisiana lake houses — complete with duck decoys and a back porch swing.

“We just dream stuff up,” said Chirafis, who lives on Pleasure Island. “We’re in all the parades.”

With a float that authentic, it’s difficult for Chirafis not to get into the holiday spirit.

“Drinking beer and throwing beads,” he said. “That’s what Mardi Gras is all about.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: ErinnPA