Brrrr. I don’t ever recall having 45-degree weather down here in October, and this is our third morning of such temps. Of course, I’m sure it’s much colder in all parts north of here. But come on! This is crazy cold for us this time of the fall. And the outrageous winds that ushered in the cold ruined any chance of a good fishing trip on Saturday morning for the three brave Bayou Women–Lil Sis, Carla, and Connie. But they didn’t seem too disappointed as they huddled inside Camp Dularge sipping hot coffee Saturday morning–after Friday night’s festivities.
The warm temps Friday evening were no indication of what was coming. We were screaming for a breeze while standing along Main Street in downtown Houma, with hundreds, maybe thousands of other curious onlookers.
When we arrived downtown at the Rougarou Fest around 5 p.m., the place was already packed with crazy-looking people wandering around, and other normal-looking ones hanging out on the streets, sidewalks, and sitting all over the courtyard.
What was this? Mardi Gras in October? For real? Oh no, my friends, it was something much more serious than some frivolous Mardi Gras parade.
It was the First Annual Rougarou (ROO gah roo) Fest, sanctioned by the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center . . .
and the brain child of my creative friend, Jonathan Foret, executive director of the center. Don’t worry, his breath is way worse than his bite. Really!
But he’s not the Rougarou–he’s just a lowly Zombie! But just what is a Rougarou, anyway? The subject of local folklore, the Rougarou is the bayou version of a shape shifter, otherwise known as a Werewolf. Maybe your folks told you the “Boogie Man would get you if you don’t watch out” when you were a child, but down here, it was most certainly the Rougarou.
Now, on with the rest of the festival.
People fill the downtown streets to watch the first ever Zombie Chase. Runners make their way through an obstacle course, while Zombies try to snatch the red flags from their waists. The person who ends the race with the most flags intact is the winner.
But man, he sure could schmooze!
As the barricades are removed, and with people still milling in the streets, the Sheriff’s Department come along and move us back . . . motorcycle style.
They whiz by one last time, lights glaring and sirens blaring . . .
making sure folks get off the streets, and stay back all nice and neat like this . . .
Let the parade begin!
With the last piece of candy thrown, and the last marching group gone by, what sounds like Boris Karloff’s voice narrating over some creepy music blasts from down the street. Wait, is there more?
As the music grows louder, children scream as visions of the walking dead come to life right before their very eyes.
Who could imagine a large troupe of Zombies, performing a choreographed routine, totally in sync? Well, I do believe I’ve seen it all now that I’ve seen a dancing Zombie troupe.
The Rougarou Festival was the first ever and one of a kind. However, Houma wasn’t the only town to have a Zombie parade, a fact revealed by a recent Google search. I’m not really sure why there’s a national obsession with the walking dead, but whatever the attraction, the parade was a hit, the kids went home with doubloons, candy, and the accompanying tummy aches.
Will I see you there next year?