Revelers are preparing once again to line the streets of Luling and Des Allemands with family and friends to celebrate the Mardi Gras season and catch a glimpse and maybe a special throw from those honored as this year’s royalty.
The Krewe of Lul will roll through Luling on Saturday, March 1 at noon while the Krewe of Des Allemands will parade on Sunday, March 2 at 1 p.m.
King O.J. Legendre and his wife, Queen Opal, will help the Krewe of Lul celebrate their 37th year. The Legendres rode in the first Krewe of Lul parade and have ridden in several subsequent parades throughout the years.
Opal, 71, said after having taken part in the parade for so long she and O.J., 72, were very pleased to have been named king and queen.
“We love Mardi Gras and enjoy celebrating it with our family. All of my children got excited when they found out we were going to be king and queen and we were excited to death,” she said. “We will all be out there together.”
In fact, of the Legendre’s four children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild, a few of the family members will be riding along in the float with the king and queen.
“My granddaughters will be riding and our great-grandson will be riding,” Opal said.
This year the duo’s special throws include a scroll featuring a picture of the Hale Boggs Bridge in Luling on one side and a picture of one of the old Luling ferries on the other that was created by one of the Legendre’s sons. In addition, the family will have personalized koozies.
Longtime fixtures of Luling where they built a house 43 years ago, Opal has been the owner and operator of Small World Daycare and Learning Center for the past 25 years while O.J. retired after a 43-year career at Avondale Shipyard.
The couple has also been involved in charitable activities, including 12 years of service with the American Cancer Society’s St. Charles Relay for Life. The Legendres are longtime parishioners of Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Hahnville.
Opal said her family is providing help decorating their float and that she and O.J. will be ready to roll come Saturday.
“We are very proud to be the king and queen of the Luling Krewe of Lul and we hope to see all of you all at the parade,” she said.
Royalty for this year’s Krewe of Des Allemands parade are King and Queen Ronald Matherne and Audrey Rodriguez Matherne.
While Ronald, 81, is a lifelong resident of Des Allemands, Audrey, 80, is a Raceland native who has been living in the area for more than 61 years.
Audrey was surprised to hear the two had been chosen as this year’s royalty, although she added she is used to getting the royal treatment from the couple’s five children, 19 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
“I think they are all excited, even more than me especially at my age,” she said. “I was just shocked because I didn’t think they’d ever ask me, but I always felt I was a queen anyhow to my children and grandkids. They treat me like a queen.”
Although they were selected as royalty this year, the Mathernes have only ridden in the parade once before. They said the parade will be a family affair as many of their children and grandchildren are helping them prepare for the parade.
“My kids are working hard at it. They are setting up all kinds of things. They are decorating the float and getting a get together set up for afterward,” Audrey said.
A couple of their grandchildren will ride in the parade with them.
“My oldest granddaughter is going to be riding on the float with her husband and my oldest grandson is going to be pulling it,” Audrey said.
Audrey said she is looking forward to seeing her friends and neighbors lining the streets and that she and Ronald will be tossing out special medallions and scrolls with their names on them that were created just for the parade.
Ronald is a former welder who retired from Monsanto after a 33-year career at the Luling plant while Audrey is a housewife. In addition to his work at Monsanto, Matherne served two terms as a Justice of the Peace, is a former police juror and both he and Audrey have served as Eucharistic Ministers at St. Gertrude Catholic Church for several years.
Having been a part of the community for such a long time, Opal said the couple is excited about reigning over the parade.
“I look forward to seeing the people enjoying themselves,” she said.