March 5, 2019 is the date of this year’s annual Mardi Gras celebration which is a major cause for celebration by tourists and locals of Lafayette alike. While we all enjoy “passing a good time” during the perennial festival which takes place on the week of “Fat Tuesday,” the day before the Lenten season officially begins, not many of us know the mechanics as to how the free parades and festivities are actually organized and underwritten.
While Lafayette, Louisiana has embraced the tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras annually since 1897, planning for an annual Lafayette Mardi Gras celebration started in 1933 when the idea of Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association was formed. This was during the height of the Depression and times were tough, but it was deemed important by business leaders to have a city-wide celebration that all residents could enjoy. The vision of a few business leaders who had the wherewithal to step up ensured that Mardi Gras would continue during hard times.
Maurice Heymann was #1 among the small group of organizers in 1934 who formed Greater Southwest with the goal of assuming the responsibility of putting on Mardi Gras for the City of Lafayette during the Depression. In fact, many credit Maurice Heymann as being the “father of Lafayette’s Mardi Gras” because he underwrote the group’s activities many times until Greater Southwest was on sound financial footing.
On a recent podcast interview with Jan Swift, host of Discover Lafayette, with Rick Chappuis and John Swift, the history of Lafayette’s Mardi Gras and the all-volunteer effort which goes into presenting a city-wide free celebration was discussed. You can hear the entire podcast interview here.
For more information on Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association, please visit http://gomardigras.com.