Laissez les bons temps rouler.
It’s Mardi Gras season, which means flying beads, flashy gowns, decorative floats and sweet King Cakes are back once again.
Every year during the months of January and February, thousands of people flock to the major cities and towns of the Bayou State hoping to walk away with a bagful of beads and good memories.
It is through the adrenaline rush that both visitors and natives of Louisiana sometimes forget, or do not truly realize, what all goes on behind the glitz and glam of the decorative floats and flashy balls.
The Krewe of Dionysos, a Natchitoches-based krewe, has been celebrating Mardi Gras with the public since 1995.
This year’s captain of the krewe is C. C. “Pete” Johnson, who has been a member of Dionysos since 2004.
Johnson has been part of the krewe’s royalty since 2006 where he first held the title of duke before he was named captain for the past two years. In that role, he conducts meetings with the krewe’s Board of Directors and oversees the day-to-day operations.
“A lot of work goes into being captain,” he says. “You have to go out and represent the krewe all the time. Sometimes you have to go do a radio or TV commercial, but it’s not something I’m the best at.”
Johnson mentioned that the krewe does more than just throw parties.
“We do some good deeds,” the krewe captain said.
Each year, the krewe sets aside roughly $1,500 to donate to five different charities in and around the city of Natchitoches. Each charity receives a donation of $300. Some of these charities include the Lion’s Club and the Natchitoches Humane Society.
One of this year’s “most gratifying things” they did, as Johnson said, is when the krewe sent Mardi Gras beads overseas to American troops so the troops could have a taste of home.
Another way in which the krewe impacts the local community is through their biggest event of the year, the Mardi Gras parade.
“As long as the weather is good, the crowds have increased [each year],” he said. “It is also a plus for the city of Natchitoches that we have this parade because there’s so much revenue coming in.”
This revenue in part comes from people coming from out of town to enjoy this family-oriented parade, along with people going out to eat and shop that day.
Even though the krewe makes good donations in the community, Dionysos still has their own struggles which comes in the form of membership recruitment, most of which is done through word of mouth.
“We try to maintain around 200 people for us to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish,” he said. “We lose members, and we gain them.”
Anyone can join the Krewe of Dionysos, and Johnson said it is a “bargain” when comparing prices of the Natchitoches krewe to those down south. Membership information can be found on their website at www.kreweofdionysos.org
The Krewe of Dionysos will hit the streets and listen to shouts of “Throw me somethin’, mister” on Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. The parade starts on South Drive, continues onto Front Street and ends southbound on Church Street.