This is a cold, windy morning, at 9:30am in Metro Soileau (although this is as country as can be). Metro Soileau is the name associated with this region, as locals prefer to relate to this area. The Parade Captain, Andrew Cezar, gives a yell, “Annou courir de Mardi Gras mes ami.” At that very moment, the whistle is sounded. Andrew, aboard his trusted mount Diablo, begin their steady move down Hwy 104 East, with approximately 250 revelers in procession.
We gather in the home of our ancestors, annually, to celebrate the Mardi Gras season in this manner. Although it’s Mardi Gras season, we celebrate on Lundi Gras, the Monday prior to Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is a Louisiana Creole term meaning Fat Tuesday. Therefore, Lundi Gras translates to Fat Monday or the day prior to Mardi Gras.
As the riders approach Alfred Caesars’ place, there’s a group of Cajun musicians present and the waltzing begins. Creoles and Cajuns have settled in this community through the years and the relationship among both cultures is mutually cordial. It’s also very refreshing to know the musical culture of both, continues to proliferate. Cajuns practice Cajun music and Creoles practice Zydeco, as music dominates both cultures as a matter of regularity.
From this point in the celebration, it’s a process of continuance. The next stop is Aunt Celemon Thomas. She is the oldest remaining person of my paternal heritage. She is famous for her Creole begniets. This is simply a fried pastry that resembles a doughnut in every form, except it’s crescent shape.
There are a number of other stops for this celebration. One is the home of Annie Victorian and her family. There will be a gumbo and chicken run. From there the procession continues for another 5 mile loop and ends at the point of it’s beginning.
After a bit of alcohol consumption at Andrew Cezars’, the celebration terminates in Oberlin, La. There is a Zydeco dance scheduled for the evening. This celebration is a continuation of the traditions of our culture. It’s been a function of our being since I was a kid and beyond. Soileau Louisiana is the home of my birth. My paternal grandparents were farmers and they occupied the property my Aunt Celemon resides upon. Of course, there have been a number of different homes built here, two lost to fires, the traditions of my family endures I was born on this property and lived with my paternal grandparents until age 5. My primary language is and will always be, Louisiana Creole. Although, I left this land as a child, my feelings for the area remain deeply rooted in a sense of knowing who I am. Each year I return, I spend my final 2 hours with Aunt Celemon, prior to returning to Baton Rouge/New Orleans.
It’s important for me to know who I am. I’m extremely confident in the knowledge of those traditions and the practices of our culture. It’s also important that I travel here with my grandchildren, in order that they gain a sense of appreciation for our culture. We shall endure as children of God.