Cajun country tradition of chasing chickens on Mardi Gras continues

Cajun country tradition of chasing chickens on Mardi Gras continues

MAMOU, LA (WAFB) - The sun was barely up, but it’s never too early for a party on Mardi Gras Day in Mamou. People started early, preparing for the unexpected because on this day, anything goes.

“We thought we had better do it before we get too old,” said Linda Lavine.

The whispers of an electric atmosphere filled with decades old traditions of men dressed in decorative outfits brought in the out-of-towners.

“No matter where we are,” Lavine said, “Louisianans know how to do probably several things, but two things for sure: that is eat good food and party.”

Linda and her husband, Jim, came from Florida to visit friends and finally experience Mardi Gras in Cajun Country.

“Basically, go back in time. It’s pretty cool,” said Jos Vingerhoets.

He’s visiting from Holland. Visitors were promised a good time at the Courir de Mardi Gras in Mamou, but one man made the trip for just one thing.

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“I wanted to see they guys on horses. That’s the main thing,” Jim said.

The guys on the horses did not disappoint, and neither did the chickens when it was time for them to be released and chased for the traditional chicken run.

Philip Bordelon says he’s been part of the Mardi Gras tradition for years. In fact, Bordelon used to chase the chickens.

“Oh yes ma’am. yeah, when I was younger," he said.

Now, he just lends his yard to the chase. His front lawn was one of the many stops along the route to catch dinner. Decades ago, they used to stop along the parade route to collect the ingredients to cook gumbo, including the chicken. Participants don’t cook their catch anymore. Now, it’s just a tradition to chase the chicken with no plans of stopping in the future.

The chickens literally made the runners dive for the title of chicken catcher.

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“I like it. why not?” said Vingerhoets. "They make gumbo out of it later I heard. It all fits in. It’s a great tradition.”

“We grew up from New Orleans with floats and stuff. This is more family oriented. It’s about the people, the friends,” James Moran said.

Mardi Gras in Mamou would not be complete without dancing; there was plenty of it and room for parade-goers to jump in.

“I’m trying to learn,” Vingerhoets added. “I’m observing. Maybe in an hour I’ll try to get in.”

We’re not sure if that guy actually started dancing, but there’s no doubt he made memories in Mamou.

Parade participants also stopped along the route to visit the elderly at a nursing home.

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