No Mardi Gras This Year, but Treasured Memories from Lake Charles

Why write a travel story about an event no one can go to this year? It seems strange and somewhat bittersweet to talk about the joy of standing on a float throwing armfuls of beads to cheering crowds of children, or chasing ridiculously fast chickens through Louisiana farm country, or making purple, green and gold King Cakes when there are no Mardi Gras crowds to share them with.

A truck with a balloon dinosaur on top of it.
Everyone loves Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, LA

But that’s the beauty of travel: just because you may not be able to surround yourself with hundreds of your closest friends until a pandemic is over, you can still celebrate special places through the memories you’ve made. And you can look forward to the fact that while this year has put a damper on celebrations throughout the world, when it’s safe to travel again, places like Lake Charles, LA, will be ready to welcome you back.

A group of people dressed up in costumes.
Want to find a fun crowd? Just look for the nearest krewe.

Battling Back

Resiliency is actually the key word here, because not only has this small town in southwest Louisiana had to deal with the cancellation of events because of COVID, but they were hit with not one, but two massive hurricanes, six weeks apart, in August and October of 2020. And while they’re still removing debris and rebuilding what was broken, the one thing that stands strong is their can-do spirit.

A man sitting on top of a horse.
Hurricanes are nothing. You want a real challenge? Try to catch a fleeing chicken during the Iowa Chicken Run.

I was reminded of this strength when I got an email this week about how, despite the fact that there is no Royal Gala, or Krewe of Krewes parade or Iowa chicken run this year, the area’s bakeries still geared up to create King Cakes that they’re shipping all over the world. The city is still holding virtual celebrations, and everyone is making the best of a bad situation, letting the good times roll, even if doing so while social distancing.

A piece of cake with colorful icing on top.
Eating King Cake is a Mardi Gras tradition, even for those outside Louisiana. And you can have it delivered…

Though Mardi Gras may not be happening this year, I still want to send some big love to this fun, vibrant town, and all the people there who treat every stranger as a friend they haven’t yet met. I hope that the future brings many more opportunities to gather among friends, throw tons of beads, eat boudin, crawfish and a mess of gumbo, and celebrate everything that makes Lake Charles such a remarkable, memorable place.

A pile of crawfish with corn on the cob.
No need to wait until Mardi Gras to get some crawfish (or boudin…or gumbo….)

Laissez le bons temps roulet!