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Mardi Gras Archive: Final update of this page completed in 2009.

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Pictured at the top of the column is Capitaine Paul Thomas ready to throw a chicken to the Mardi Gras while the courir was still being organized at Andrew Cezar's sulky racing track in Soileau. That's Alfred Ceasar holding up the chicken in the next shot, and Alfred Ceasar is also shown driving the sulky with Paul Thomas beside him in the shot immediately above.

In the top right chicken-chasing photo, Terrance Cezar is shown wearing the orange wig and beside him in the bright blue pants is Brian Victorian. In back wearing the capuchon is Avery Victorian.

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The Creole Mardi Gras Courir in Southwest Louisiana is a very old tradition that must have begun about the same time as the Cajun courirs, perhaps as far back as the 19th century. One of those courirs occurred in L'Anse de 'Prien Noir in the rural community of Duralde in Evangeline Parish not far from Mamou and Eunice. After that courir finally came to an end, the Creole community of Soileau organized a new courir. Paul Thomas, long-time capitaine of the 'Prien Noir courir, served as capitaine of the Soileau Mardi Gras Courir for several years until he was unable to make the ride. He died in 2008.

Affectionately often referred to as Metro Soileau, the rural community of Soileau is located west of Duralde in Allen Parish but not far from the Evangeline Parish boundary. The courir is held on the Monday before Mardi Gras beginning at Andrew Cezar's sulky racing track.

In earlier times, the riders would have consisted only of men from the community. In 2000, when these pictures were taken, the courir included both men and women, and a number of people from outside the area rode along on a couple of trailers.

After the Mardi Gras had a chance to chase a few chickens at the race track, the courir departed down Highway 104 but soon turned onto narrow one-lane gravel roads that led to small, well-kept frame houses located deep in the countryside.  

The horse riders, trailers pulled by trucks, and a couple of horse-drawn carriages would sometimes follow long, winding lanes to get to a single house. The courir was well-organized. Allen Parish sheriff's cars led the procession and also followed at the end.

As the riders approached a house, they would sing an old Mardi Gras chant, different from anything heard on Cajun courirs. Click here to download a short MP3 file of the chant recorded with a small hand-held cassette player.

For more information on Creole Mardi Gras traditions and the L'Anse de 'Prien Noir Mardi Gras, see Nicholas R. Spitzer's article "Mardi Gras in L'Anse de 'Prien Noir" in James H. Dormon, ed., Creoles of Color in the Gulf South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1996), 87-125.  The essay includes a transcription of some words from the Creole Mardi Gras chant. Spitzer's  recording of the chant made in 1976 is on  the cassette Zodico: Lousisiana Creole Music, available from Rounder Records.

Special thanks to Trish Ransom, who, along with Oliver Frank and Steve Willis, identified the Soileau Mardi Gras participants shown in these pictures.

Click here for more on the Soileau Mardi Gras.

Click here for pictures of the 2001 Soileau Mardi Gras
and to the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009 runs.

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Wilmer Ledet is shown riding beside the road.

Click here for more on the 2000 Soileau Mardi Gras.

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