PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 3, 2014

Mardi Gras great success organizers say

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The beads are strewn and now gone, food booths folded up, and the floats parked, but that doesn’t mean this year’s Mardi Gras in downtown Port Arthur is forgotten.

“I would say it was a great success,” Laura Childress, Mardi Gras director, said.

The annual event, the 22nd, was such a hit that volunteers, organizers and revelers are already looking forward to next year,” Childress said.

Even the threat of rain Sunday, and dark clouds rolling in Friday, failed to dampen the spirits of party-goers.

“It got off to a slow start, but Saturday turned out to be an outstanding day. Even Sunday with pending weather, the parade got to on as scheduled and it did not rain until the last float rolled through,” Childress said.

Childress credited great entertainment, good food and a new attractions for  drawing the crowds to Procter Street.

Perhaps the best received were four walking heads, new this year to the parade line-up.

Fashioned like the ones leading Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, the four walking heads — two skulls and two jesters — were crowd pleasers in every Port Arthur parade.

“They were in all six parades. Everytime people saw them, they wanted to take their pictures,” Childress said. “This was a very big attraction this year.”

Another first was the Cast in Bronze, a carillon consisting of 35 bronze bells.

“Cast in Bronze was very well received with good crowds for each performance,” Childress said.

In all there were 114 entries for the six parades, and sold out vendor space.

The gates had barely closed Sunday when vendors were emailing, expressing their pleasure at the crowds and ready to come back next year, Childress said.

This year’s “Island Fever” theme was also a hit.

“When we picked “Island Fever” we did not know how much fun it would be, but it was an overwhelming pleasant surprise,” Childress said.  

The newly-renovated pavilion was also an added attraction this year.

“The pavilion worked great for us; the digital boards out front were wonderful. I think everybody was pleased with it,” Childress said.

After four days of revelry, there were only four arrests, and three of those were for minor infractions: Public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

A fourth arrest, for assaulting a police officer, occurred after a man from out of state became combative while officers were attempting to calm him.

Childress said it would take a couple of weeks before attendance numbers are known.

E-mail: skoonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews