It’s official: Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas moving to Beaumont

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, August 28, 2019

After 27 years of parades and bead tossing, the party in Port Arthur is moving on.

Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas got the green light on Tuesday from the Beaumont City Council to move the celebration to their city in action that passed in a 6 to 1 vote.

Tim Romero, chairman of the MGSET board, was not in attendance at the meeting but was informed of the vote from Laura Childress, who is president of the organization.

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“We are very happy and excited at the prospects of Mardi Gras and equally excited at developing a relationship with Beaumont,” Romero said. “We are looking forward. Mardi Gras’s best days are now ahead.”

Romero called the move a new dawn for Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas.

Beaumont has ample space for the annual event to be held, he said.

“At the same time I’d like to say for 27 years Port Arthur was a great host city,” he said. “We appreciate everything they did in working with us. This was strictly a financial decision. It has nothing to do with the city per se.”

Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames said in a phone call after the meeting that she wants the public to know the city did not try to lure Mardi Gras from Port Arthur. It was only after its organizers were turned away in a bid to move to Port Neches and the contract with the city of Port Arthur had expired before any conversations occurred.

Ames said there would be gates in the festival but she is not sure exactly how the grounds will be gated off. The city of Beaumont hosts numerous events that draw large crowds and staff is experienced in dealing with this, she said.

“We hope this becomes a regional festival, if you will, and we will get people from all over the region and further away,” she said. “We hope everyone from South County will come over and celebrate. With the space we have, we can grow larger which benefits the nonprofits, which is a good thing for everyone. We want it to be a win-win situation.”

There is also excitement from some of the Krewes who want to keep the party going.

“My Krewe Le Bon Vie will move forward too,” Alice Thibeault with Krewe Le Bon Vie said. “If Mardi Gras is truly in your heart, you can celebrate anywhere. It’s all about the people you’re with.”

Allie Lee with the Krewe of Outcast echoed the sentiment, saying they will be following MGSET to Beaumont and are excited about the new adventure and hope the traditions of Mardi Gras continue.

It seems all of the local Krewes are happily moving to Beaumont, with the exception of at least one — the Krewe of Jesters. Tu Mai-McDaniel said her krewe is comprised of people that have a strong, emotional connection to Port Arthur.

“Most of us grew up in Port Arthur, attended Port Arthur schools and some still reside in the community,” she said. “Several of us continue to work in the area predominantly in education and industry. Although the Krewe of Jesters will not participate in the Beaumont event as an organized group, we will still support MGSET’s efforts.

“We are confident that the event will be well received and attended. We understand that the event could no longer sustain in its previous environment and the decision was based solely on numbers.”

Mai-McDaniel said the group is holding on to the hope that Port Arthur will devise a plan to continue its history of celebrating Mardi Gras.

“Understandably the event would be on a much smaller scale but would be able to focus on a grassroots community revitalization,” she said. “Krewe of Jesters would happily partake in any such event to promote its hometown.”