Story by Jacklyn Leo, freshman at Lusher Charter School. Photos by Derek Dunbar, junior at St. Augustine High School.
Last Monday was Lundi Gras 2019, one of the biggest parties of the season, even though people don’t hype it up as much as they do Mardi Gras. Although Lundi Gras will always play second fiddle to its popular older sibling, that doesn’t mean it can’t be just as fun. Festivities started at 10am at the Spanish Plaza and ended around 6:30pm. There was entertainment on a main stage and little things to do sprinkled around the area. On the main stage, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters started playing and everyone was having a good time. When they were done warming up the crowd, Cowboy Mouth took over.
There was one man standing at the front of the show leaning on the barricades while the bands played who was more excited than anyone else in the crowd. He said he had attended every Lundi Gras since he was born and was now sharing the tradition with his wife who was attending her 11th Lundi Gras. He said he was born on Mardi Gras day and that the holiday held a special place in his heart. With so many years under his belt, he still couldn’t pick a favorite year, but he made sure to say that it definitely wasn’t the year Cowboy Mouth didn’t perform.
After they played for a while, the Zulu king arrived on a boat, as is tradition. They encountered a few issues, namely the Coast Guard cutter colliding with the Algiers Ferry dock, but otherwise it was smooth sailing. The special military guest left the boat and crowded into the warm VIP area next to the stage and Zulu followed closely behind them. When they were settled, Mayor LaToya Cantrell rolled up in a sleek black car with her family. She greeted the people at the VIP tent before heading to the stage and everyone was excited to meet her.
Finally, the guest of honor showed up in the official Rex Pullman train car. Rex pulled up to the main entrance of the Riverwalk Mall and people crowded around his path while pulling out their cameras. Security frantically tried to push back the crowds as Rex proudly marched down to the stage where Cowboy Mouth was just finishing up.
Rex, Zulu, and the Mayor all greeted each other kindly and then the show began. Emcee Erroll Laborde introduced everyone, and gave a quick summary of the upcoming events, where Mayor Cantrell would be passing control of the city over to Rex for one day. Zulu gave a brief speech and then he shook Rex’s hand. Then came the time for Rex to read out his royal decree for Cantrell to sign. Once he was finished he handed her the scroll and waited for her to sign it. While everyone was bantering casually, Cantrell and her team were making a decision, pretending as if they hadn’t already made up their minds. When she was ready she went through point by point and playfully considered the options out loud. Finally, she signed the scroll giving Rex control of the city, and as a final goodbye, awarded Rex with the key to the city.
When the decree was signed and gifts were all given, Rex, Zulu, and Cantrell gathered around the large detonator sitting on the stage and then counted down from 15. When the crowd yelled one, the fireworks started and the party came to a close.
Check out all of JNROLA’s Photographer Derek Dunbar’s photos below: