Merchants Parade kicks off Mardi Gras in Lake Charles

5pm Merchants Parade kicks off Mardi Gras in Lake Charles
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Despite a little drizzle, the Merchants Parade carried on this evening in Lake Charles.

Revelers gathered roadside to watch the parade, ride on a float, or see how many goodies they could snatch-up.

Today is the official kickoff of Mardi Gras weekend as we begin with the Merchants Parade.

Before things officially begin, floats and troupes take their place behind the Lake Charles Civic Center, adding the final touch to their festive floats.

For veteran Benny Welch, it's his 15th Merchants Parade.

"When we first started out it was my wife and I and my kids. Now it's my wife and I and our grand kids. And I think we even have a couple of great grand kids ha ha," said Welch.

For Matt Pedersen, it's his first time in the parade. And he's using the opportunity to promote his business with the goodies.

"We've been open in business for five years and decided to do this and I think it's a great way to get our name out there even more than it is now," explained Pedersen.

While it's a festivity, it's also about the holiday season.

"Everybody is celebrating, getting ready for the serious holiday that comes up on Tuesday and the next one that comes up on Ash Wednesday," said District Attorney John DeRosier.

And as the sun went down, the lights came on and the music turned up.

And a little drizzle didn't stop the crowds from showing up. Some even had a new use for their umbrellas.

Whether it was royalty, an organization or school, it didn't matter who was on the float, as long as they had something to share. Because everyone's favorite part of the parade is the goods.

"Well I've got a little bit of candy, a lot of beads and some cups," said Keanna Allison.

Revelers of all ages hit the streets, hoping to collect as much as their hands could carry.

And hopefully everyone keeps up the high energies throughout the weekend as the festivities continue.

In total the parade lasted about 30 minutes.

For a list of Mardi Gras events:

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