IOWA, LA (KPLC) – The town of Iowa has a long running and rich Mardi Gras tradition.
Helen Bushnell, the event coordinator stated, "I'm filled with joy that my dad was able to start something so creative and so positive."
Helen Bushnell's father Willie, helped to establish Iowa's Mardi Gras tradition 31 years ago. Willie grew up in Oberlin, where there were had plenty of Mardi Gras festivities. When his family moved to Iowa, Willie decided to bring his Oberlin Mardi Gras traditions with him. Helen took over when he passed away.
"Now this is my baby," said Bushnell.
The people of Iowa look forward to Bushnell putting on the event every year.
"I take vacation off of work for it," said parade accordion player Brandon Ledet. Crowds of people have listened to his music for the past four years.
Ledet stated, "[It's a] great honor that people want you to come out and play accordion for the rides.
Ledet says being a part of the celebration is a blast. "It's bigger than most people actually think out in the rural parts of Lake Charles."
Parade goers look forward to catching beads, candy…and chickens. Every Fat Tuesday the parade will stop occasionally for a chicken run.
"Sometimes they have a live chicken to make the kids run and catch. It's a fun day," said Bushnell.
Bushnell continues to organize the parade because she enjoys seeing the community come together.
"It's like a reunion. I'm getting teary eyed because it means so much. It will live on as long as we can let it," said Bushnell.