Cajun Mardi Gras – Elton Run
Music; Ambience: Cajun music: fiddle, accordion, Cajun prayer “We ask you to bless this crew….”, Hey Mardi Gras! Revelry, M.G. song, charge, horseback, chicken squawk
We’re in Elton, Louisiana celebrating this community’s Cajun roots on the night before its annual Mardi Gras run. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. David Bertand is one of the Mardi Gras’ organizers.
“It’s like a big reunion for our small town every year. Tonight we have a community barbecue, some people stay up all night and camp out and then tomorrow morning everybody arises very early in the morning, saddles up”.
Now the Elton Run is one of many held in Cajun Country. This rural version of Mardi Gras has its origins in ancient European rituals. It’s a day of organized anarchy, where masked revelers make the rounds of their neighbor’s houses, begging for the ingredients of a communal feast. Early in the morning of the Elton Run, about a hundred masked Mardi Gras participants – all men in this particular run, first gather around to receive a blessing.
And then everyone’ll down a shot of vodka mixed with jello and they’ll start the run which is about 8 miles long and takes the better part of the day. Some of the men are on horseback and some ride on wagons. The riders approach the first of what will be many houses they’ll visit throughout the day.
“The captain approaches the house and asks if people there if they will receive the Mardi Gras. And they have something to give the Mardi Gras for the gumbo that night. And once they get permission then they charge the house. People fly, horses fly, its chaos, but that’s the purpose of it.”
We’ll hear more about Cajun Mardi Gras in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.