The Mardi Gras Krewes of Lul and Des Allemands are getting into the swing of the carnival season as their parades get ready to roll this weekend.
The Krewe of Lul is up first and is set to roll on Saturday, Feb. 9 at noon. The Krewe will be celebrating their 36th year in existence, however, the parade has been rained out for the past two years making King and Queen Bill and Edie Sirmon the longest serving royalty in parade history.
"This will be our third year reigning over the parade," Edie said.
She quickly followed up by spelling out the word "R-E-I-G-N-I-N-G" so as not to be confused with the more popular occurrence as of late - R-A-I-N-I-N-G.
"We consider ourselves historical figures in the Krewe of Lul history," Edie said. "We are really good at this, we are old pros. Anybody who is king and queen in the future we will help them as we were helped by king and queens of past years."
The Sirmons, who have been married for 47 years, were both teachers at St. Charles Parish Public Schools where Edie retired 10 years ago. Bill served in numerous capacities throughout this time in the school system including stints as head of transportation and athletic director before moving into the private sector. In addition to his professional positions, Bill was also a St. Charles Parish councilman for District 7.
Despite their deep connections to the community, the Sirmons have not ridden in the parade before, but have been attending it for years.
"We’ve always been spectators," Edie said. "We’d take the family out and set up along the route and just enjoy ourselves."
The two have been holding onto special throws since 2011 when they were first crowned.
Edie will be throwing out scrolls designed by New Orleans artist Tuna Seither.
"I can’t even describe how beautiful they are," she said. "It looks like about 11x7 inches and it also has each family members’ name somewhere in the scroll. You have to look for it, our parents names and our childrens’ names."
Bill had doubloons specially made for the parade that he will be throwing to the crowds.
Although they feel lucky to have been chosen as the centerpiece of the parade, Edie said she and Bill are determined to end their stint as royalty this year.
"Whether anyone rolls or not, I am rolling in the streets and whoever is staying out there I will say hello," Edie said.
The Krewe of Des Allemands is set to roll the day after the Krewe of Lul on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 1 p.m.
King and Queen of the Krewe of Des Allemands this year are Alvin "Abby" and Janice Dufrene.
Janice said when she and her husband heard they had been selected as king and queen they were in disbelief.
"It was Thanksgiving Day. After lunch the committee had sent my daughter a card and she read the card aloud to the family," she said. "Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d be selected. Alvin and I were at a complete loss for words. Our faces just dropped and we had wide open mouths."
Janice said she and her husband did not have much of a choice on whether they would accept the roles.
"Our children didn’t give us a chance to decide because they said, ‘Oh yes, they’ll do it,’" Janice said.
The Dufrene’s are Paradis natives. Both graduated from Hahnville High School in 1957.
"We were high school sweethearts. We met in high school and that was it," Janice said.
Before retiring, Janice was a librarian at HHS for 27 years and Alvin was a senior accountant at Cytech for 20 years.
The couple have not ridden in the parade before, but over the last several years they have parked a truck on the route and enjoyed the parade as spectators.
"We would always go early and walk one side of the street and meet the people and then walk the other side. So we’ve always enjoyed meeting the people and seeing our friends," Janice said.
Their sons, Terry James, Kerry John and Alvin Jr., are all part of the Krewe of Des Allemands and Janice said her family’s enthusiasm for parades has evolved over the years.
"At nighttime we used to stay on Canal Street and wait for the parade and as a family stay on St. Charles," she said. "And then we went down to Bonnabel in Metairie and when we got older we just stayed on the local parade routes. We’ve had a wonderful time there just waiting for the families."
Janice said her sons have taken care of most of the aspects of their participation in the parade, including decorating the king and queen’s float.
"They are taking care of the float," she said. "They have been decorating it and preparing it so that has been a big help."
Janice said she thinks the committee picked them to get more engagement in the parade from areas surrounding Des Allemands.
"We are honored that they asked us because they are trying to reach out to the further community," she said. "It was a great honor for us to represent the Des Allemands community and being from Paradis I think it is great thing being able to unite the two communities together."
The Dufrenes have finalized their clothing for the event. Janice will wear white slacks, a gold blouse and white trimmed jacket and Alvin will go for a traditional tuxedo.
As far as special throws are concerned, Alvin will be throwing doubloons and the two will have a novelty throw.
"The king and queen medallion is going to be our novelty throw," Janice said. "It’s round and it has a catfish and ‘Krewe of DA’ in the middle and on the side our names with 2013."
After the ball for the Krewe of Des Allemands was held a few weeks ago and the couple was awarded a plaque by the St. Charles Parish Council, the pressure started to build.
"We are getting a little anxious now and we are getting a lot of a calls and cards," Janice said. "We are getting a little hectic. I am trying to keep my husband calm because he gets a little out of kilter. The anticipation is building."
The couple said despite the work involved, they are grateful for the opportunity to represent the Krewe of Des Allemands.
"We are just hoping for a pleasant day and hoping that families have an enjoyable gathering," Janice said.