, Port Arthur, Texas

February 28, 2014

Mardi Gras revelers fill downtown PA

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Cloudy skies did little to deter revelers from flooding Port Arthur’s downtown early Friday night, where the party spirit was full throttle for the 22nd Annual Southeast Texas Mardi Gras.

Gates opened at 6 p.m., but before that krewes lined the seawall waiting on their festive floats to roll around Rose Hill Manor, then onto Procter Street, where the bead throwing began in earnest.

“This is a very fun experience and this weather is not stopping us. We are ready to go, been waiting for this all week,” Brittyn Landry, 21, of Groves, said.

“All year,” her friend Hannah Guy, 21, of Port Arthur said.

Colorful floats — some painted like dragons, others like pirates — were only outdone by outlandish Mardi Gras costumes.

Marie Provost, 44, of Port Arthur; Bhavani Simon, 39, of Lumberton; and Dianna Bombassi, 51, of Groves, sported oversized embellished hats.

“She gets a new one every year, Simon said of her friend. A lady in Nederland makes them for us.”

For Dan Ward, of Labelle, strolling the seawall in a court jester hat and a matching drink koozie provided the perfect opportunity to socialize.

“I’m just visiting with all the people I already know and meeting new ones I don’t,” Ward said.

While the float riders prepared to start the parade, crowds were making their way inside the gates.

There, festival food, games, midway rides and entertainment offered a night of family fun.

Keithen Collins, 21, of Baytown and formerly of Port Arthur was there with his cousin, Kurt Jones, 22, of Port Arthur.

“We’ve been here every year since we were kids. Its a tradition thing,” Collins said.

Others, like Tommy Grodotzke, 63, of Nederland, was there with his family supporting a friend providing musical entertainment on the Gold Stage.

They come every year, he said, this time with young Adam, his young grandson from Houston who turns 1 in May.

“We come every year — about 15 years in a row now,” he said. “I love the food, getting ribbon fries and shrimp today. Tomorrow I will have a turkey leg.”

Kenneth Duhon, 31, his wife Lola Duhon, 31, and their daughter Olivia Duhon 5, all of Bridge City, marveled at the city’s new pavilion that was renovated just in time for this year’s Mardi Gras festivities.

“I’m pretty impressed by the new pavilion. It looks really neat and clean, like an old-time movie theater. My husband was taking pictures of it earlier and Facebooking it.”

Mardi Gras festivities continue Saturday at 1 p.m. with the Krewes of Royalty March inside the festival grounds. AT 5:30 p.m. a Motorcycle Showcase Parade is scheduled along Procter Street, and at 6 p.m. the Total Krewe of Aurora Grand Parade is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The parade route is from Rosehill down to Procter Street, ending at Houston Avenue.

Saturday’s entertainment include The Port Arthur Playboys at 3 p.m., Lil’ Waye & Same Ole’ 2 Step at 5:30 p.m., Harrison Swift at 8:30 p.m. and Casey Donahew Band at 10 p.m.

Mardi Gras tickets for the first time this year are available for purchase online at

Adult tickets are also available at the gate on Thursday for $5, $15 on Friday and Saturday, and $10 on Sunday. Children under the age of 12 get in free.


Twitter: skooncePANews