The writer was hosted.
If you envision Mardi Gras as an adults-only, more-than-a-little-bit-risqué type of event, then you haven’t checked out Mardi Gras in Lake Charles Louisiana. Lake Charles, located in Southwest Louisiana, is 200 miles East of New Orleans and 145 miles West of Houston. There’s plenty of fun to be had in Lake Charles for Mardi Gras. Here are a few of my favorite kid-friendly events to help you party like a Cajun and enjoy a real Lake Charles Mardi Gras. Family-friendly Mardi Gras doesn’t mean ho-hum or boring.
Laissez les bon temps rouler means “Let the good times roll.” Although you could probably enhance your visit to family-friendly Mardi Gras in Lake Charles with a few more French phrases, that one will endear you to the locals. Even if you don’t learn any French, the locals are friendly and it doesn’t take much to fit in during this epic party season.
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Children’s Mardi Gras Stroll
Saturday, Feb. 18
The Mardi Gras Stroll is designed to get everyone into the spirit. The lineup begins at 10:10 a.m. at the Ward 3 Cougar Stadium parking lot along 1st Avenue. Children are encouraged to wear their finest Mardi Gras costumes and bring a decorated umbrella.
- The appropriate thing to shout at a passing Mardi Gras float? “Hey, gimme somethin’!” Photo courtesy of Kathryn Shea Duncan/Visit Lake Charles
Mardi Gras Children’s Parade
Sunday, Feb. 19 at 3:30 p.m.
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This parade is one of Lake Charles’ longest and most well-attended parades leading up to Mardi Gras Day. The parade participants are children of local Mardi Gras Krewe members and kids’ organizations geared toward youth.
The children’s parade might lack the fun debauchery you expect from Mardi Gras but it’s very high energy and the spectators collecting buckets of beads are some of the most enthusiastic around. The atmosphere is wholesome and celebratory and appropriate for all ages.
The parade begins in downtown Lake Charles and heads south on Ryan Street.
Mardi Gras Children’s Day
Sunday, Feb. 19, Lake Charles Civic Center
This free event for kids ages 3-11 combines Mardi Gras fun with culture, music and learning with performing arts, technology and science, safety and health and arts and crafts exhibitions. All activities are interactive and hands-on.
Make Mardi Gras crafts and learn about the traditions and history of the carnival season. Entertainment includes colorful characters such as jesters, dance groups and promenading pageant queens.
- Chicken Run really means chicken run in Iowa Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Shea Duncan/Visit Lake Charles
Iowa Chicken Run
Tuesday, Feb.21, Iowa Knights of Columbus Hall
Iowa, Louisiana (pronounced EYE-OH-WAY) is 14 miles west of downtown Lake Charles and where the family-friendly Mardi Gras fun is really found.
The parade route travels west on Highway 90 and stops at participating local businesses or private homes to gather ingredients for the gumbo. The parade captain blows his whistle and participants hop down from the parade float and dance in exchange for the donation of ingredients for the gumbo. Then, a chicken is thrown into the air for the kids to catch. This one wins the prize for the most fun and unique Mardi Gras event in the area and is worth the short drive from Lake Charles.
Doors open at 8 a.m., floats start lining up at 9 a.m. and the parade begins at 10 a.m. Gumbo is served to parade riders from 2-4 p.m. and the event concludes with a zydeco dance that starts at 5 p.m.
- The Krewe of Krewe parade is the culmination of Mardi Gras events in Lake Charles and it is very family friendly. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Shea Duncan/Visit Lake Charles
Krewe of Krewes Parade
Tuesday, Feb. 21, Ryan Street
This is Lake Charles’ big shebang. This Mardi Gras parade is the city’s event that wraps up Fat Tuesday. Scoring beads is fun but what about cheeseburgers, Nerf footballs, doubloons, cups and other fun prizes? If this sounds like a good time (spoiler alert: it is) then this is the event for you.
You’ll see more than 100 floats winding through the city in this fun culmination of Fat Tuesday. If you’d like to watch this parade, stake out your spot early. It’s common for people to claim their prime viewing spot along Ryan Street to catch the Mardi Gras festivities quite early in the day.
Check out the Visit Lake Charles website if you need a parade schedule or more information on Mardi Gras events as well as other things to see, do, and eat while you’re in town. Happy Mardi Gras season and enjoy your Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras!
You can also check out nearby Lafayette and Baton Rouge for additional Mardi Gras events or more places to sample boudin and crawfish!
- Let the good times roll with family friendly Mardi Gras events in Lake Charles! Photo courtesy of Kathryn Shea Duncan/Visit Lake Charles