Wearing purple, green, gold, and red court jester costumes and smiles as wide as the muddy Mississippi River, a band of masked merry makers waits for their musical cue. Then, by the time the first bar has come over their boom box, they’re high-steppin’ in a Second Line led by the group’s captain who’s hard to miss in her gold lamé outfit.
With gold, purple, and green spangled umbrellas pumping, they approach the tour bus as the spirited jazz plays on, while timid tourists hear, “Welcome to Lake Charles! Where y’all from?” Soon, the visitors are dancing, laughing, and letting the good times roll.
Which is what one is supposed to do in Louisiana, because after Jan. 6, it’s all about the party. And the Twelfth Night Revelers of Imperial Calcasieu know how to get the party started.
IT'S MARDI GRAS ALL YEAR
And for the Twelfth Night Revelers, the party never ends. Acting as Mardi Gras and civic ambassadors for the greater Lake Charles, La., area, the Revelers meet tour buses and visit schools, nursing homes, conventions, parties – even funerals – throughout the year, sporting their Mardi Gras attire and bearing beads and other loot. But during Mardi Gras, they may have two or three gigs per day, says Cindy Hebert (pronounced A-bare), Revelers president.
“We often have to split into two groups,” she says. But there are more than 50 members in the Revelers group – many retired men and women – so it’s not a problem.
To be a Reveler, one must be at least 21 years of age; live in the parishes of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, or Jefferson Davis; and have a sponsor from the group.
In addition to the time commitment, Revelers invest their money into costumes and throws.
“It’s up to the Reveler on what they want to do, but we all pay for our throws,” Hebert says. Those items can range from beads and penny candies to stuffed animals and plastic cups.
The Twelfth Night Revelers have been around for more than 25 years. Under the direction of Anne Monlezun, whom Hebert describes as “the queen of Mardi Gras,” the group was organized in 1991.
Hebert and her husband, Jeff, joined the Revelers in 2012. Some members of the group have been active for 20 years.
“I told my husband when we retire, we should join the Revelers because it looks like they have so much fun,” she says.