Elaine Andry Ayo and Carol LeBlanc Alvarez shared disbelief when they were asked to be Grand Marshals for the Krewe of Des Allemands’ parade this weekend.
“It was a state of shock at first for me,” Ayo said. “And then we look at each other and it’s like, ‘Do we want to do that? We’re getting older! So, it was a pretty huge surprise. I’d never thought of doing anything like that before. That was my first reaction.”
Both women grew up in Des Allemands before ultimately moving away, but they each have remained huge supporters of the parade over the years.
“As long as they’ve had it, it’s been a part of my life,” Ayo said. “So, so many years. I’ve never rode in it before, though. This will be my first time riding so that’s really exciting.”
“I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone out there and enjoying the parade,” Alvarez said. “Seeing familiar faces … I have a lot of friends (in Des Allemands) that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
The royalty of Des Allemands were honored as a group at an outdoor celebration gathering this year, which Ayo said got the ball rolling on what’s already been a fun experience.
She also enjoyed being able to find out alongside her friend, Alvarez, that the two would be Grand Marshals together.
“The weather prediction looks pretty good,” Ayo added. “That’s a relief because we shouldn’t have that freezing cold. I’m excited about it.”
Ayo lived in Des Allemands where she grew up until moving away following her wedding – and ditto for Alvarez.
Her mother was one of 10 DeJean siblings – the family owned the DeJean’s retail store in Des Allemands for many years.
“Des Allemands has always been a part of my life, even after I moved away,” Ayo said.
Ayo’s sister returned to Des Allemands after she moved away herself years ago, and Ayo has regularly returned to enjoy the parade from her sister’s home on the parade route.
“It’s just always such a great gathering of family and friends,” Ayo said. “Honored and proud.”
Like Ayo, Alvarez said she was honored by the request.
“I’m grateful that they asked me,” Alvarez said. ““Honored and proud.”
She has several throws at the ready for parade-goers of all ages – there’s a little something for everyone.
“I’ve got little stuffed animals for the kids, tomahawks, bubbles, doubloons … all kinds of things,” Alvarez said.