Hometown Heroes - Tony Perot
LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A Lake Charles man who helped create the popularity of Gumbeaux Gator mascot is being remembered for his contribution to tourism in Southwest Louisiana.
Some may not have recognized the name Tony Perot in the obituaries. But those who grew up during the early days of Gumbeaux Gator knew who he was. The late Marty Myers created the character for the SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau. Tony Perot made Gumbo come alive.
“Tony had a fun, really lively personality,” recalled Shelley Johnson, former director of the bureau. “Gumbeaux Gator, the character, really wasn’t meant to speak. He was just to go out and make movements, be in his costume and shake hands. But Tony brought a whole other personality to Gumbeaux Gator. He is the only Gumbeaux Gator who spoke.”
When Perot retired from the position, he taught other young actors to play the part.
“We had to have Tony teach them Gumbeaux Gator classes,” said Johnson. “Teach them how to smooch, because Gumbeaux was always giving a smooch to people, shaking his tail, dancing around. You know, that had to be taught.”
Perot died February 8, 2021 of the Covid-19 at the age of 70. He lives on inside the Mardi Gras Museum of Southwest Louisiana.
“When you walk in, the first character you see is Gumbeaux Gator, and that’s Tony’s voice you hear welcoming you to the Mardi Gras Museum.”
Tony’s voice can be heard saying, “as in the word, Krewe. Spelled with a K. It’'s the old English spelling of crew, meaning a krewe of people getting together to socialize.”
“For over 20 years, he read the “Cajun Night Before Christmas,” said Johnson.
Perot is survived by his wife Jennifer, along with a son and three grandchildren.
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