Don’t rain on our parades

Published 10:54 am Tuesday, February 13, 2018


No matter the head count, no matter the bottom line, no matter the hours worked or the miles traveled to Procter Street and the Festival Area, Mardi Gras Southeast Texas and its supporters accomplished a brave and beautiful thing in presenting to Greater Port Arthur this year’s Carnival events.

Well done.

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You can’t quantify fun. You can’t quantify the creation of family memories. You can’t quantify how important it is for a community that’s been beleaguered by record-setting flooding and its ill effects since last summer to find some restored sense of equilibrium. People got all of that from this year’s Mardi Gras schedule.

Devastating floods may have altered much of the autumn and winter for Port Arthur and Mid County people. But it did not wipe away Mardi Gras, which for 26 years has been a seasonal mainstay here.

Laura Childress of Mardi Gras Southeast Texas said she could feel some sense of local urgency when it came to this season’s Mardi Gras events, capped off by four days of parades and parties and music in downtown Port Arthur, from Atlanta Avenue to Austin Avenue. Urgent it was.

“You have got to do this,” people told her. “We have got to have some sense of normalcy. We’ve got to have something to look forward to.”

Well, as much “normalcy” as a Carnival season can provide, they got it.

Harvey took another bite from our pleasure with the cancelation of Thursday’s parade — there was only so much that could be done this year — and Mother Nature took her own portion on Saturday afternoon, dumping rain on downtown and causing cancelation of the Krewes Royalty March.

But nonetheless, traffic poured down Memorial Boulevard toward the Mardi Gras events for four days. Beads flew, music played and a community could smile.

“People want to be involved,” said Barbara Phillips, spokewoman for Valero, which led the Valero Krewe of Krewes Parade on Friday evening. Many plant employees, like people everywhere in this community, suffered some losses during the flooding, but there they were on their float Friday, along the seawall, waiting to play.

Teresa Hayslette and Harold and Susan Schkade of Port Neches said there was little they could do about the rain except hoist their umbrellas. But standing on the Krewe of Carnival float Friday, they braved the weather still.

Standing alongside Procter Street, awaiting the parade’s start, Loan Le and Tram Vo watched toddler Christian Vo sample some snacks. A little rain was not going to dampen his spirit nor theirs.

We salute Mardi Gras organizers, volunteers and participants — they have served us well — for keeping the Carnival and Mardi Gras spirit alive during this difficult year.