King and queen follow in footsteps of 1998 Des Allemands royalty

King Merlin Schaubhut and Queen Joyce Chiasson Schaubhut will reign over the Krewe of Des Allemands when the parade rolls this Sunday at 1 p.m.  

Some might call it fitting – after all, carnival royalty runs in the family.  

Merlin’s mother and father reigned as king and queen of the parade in 1998. Adding to that, Merlin’s sister Linda Cunningham and Cunningham’s cousin Peggy Frickey will also ride as grand marshals, making this year’s Des Allemands parade a true family affair.   

For Merlin, this parade is something that’s been a part of his life for just about all of it.   

“I started barbequing for this parade when I was 16 years old,” said the lifelong Des Allemands resident. “(The parade’s) gotten really big now. We enjoy seeing all the people.”  

Joyce, meanwhile, has been attending the parade yearly and enjoying the festivities for many years herself. A New Orleans native, she and Merlin have been married for 59 years – ever since meeting at a local dance – and this has been a favorite tradition for her.   

What is brand new, however, is the chance to ride in the parade – neither has before.   

“No, never … my kids did with my mother-in-law and them, but this will be a first for us,” said Joyce. “We’ve been hearing a lot from family who are looking to come and see us … I’m really looking forward to it.  

“We’ve been going to watch the parade for years and years, so this will be a different way to enjoy it.”  

The aforementioned barbeque, in fact, has been central to an annual event at their home, where the couple hosts friends and family for the parade celebration. And though they have some extra responsibilities as king and queen this year, that celebration is set to take place once again this year.   

“We’re going to have a big party after,” Joyce said. “All of our families are coming.”  

Merlin worked at Avondale shipyard for many years before retiring. Joyce was a stay-at-home mom and quite the experienced babysitter – doing so for 15 children, including her grandchildren.    

The two did not expect to reign – the news came as a surprise, so much though that Joyce said they initially declined.   

“We went to a birthday party and the committee showed up – they asked if we wanted to be king and queen,” Joyce said. “And I said, ‘Oh no!’ I think I was in shock and at first we told them no, but after a little while and a chance to think about it we agreed to do it. We were honored.”  

Preparation may be made a bit easier by the fact that the family members can all compare riding notes. The couple says they’re ready to roll.   

“We’ve got some cups and koozies and a lot of beads,” said Joyce. “Some stuffed animals – we’ve got a good bit.” 

 

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