Royalty of Lul: Grand Marshal Fay Caire and Chaplain Fr. Anthony Odiong

Fr. Anthony Odiong and Fay Caire.

Fay Caire quipped that she and her family have been going to the Krewe of Lul parade since “the beginning of time,” but on Saturday she’ll be able to see the festivities from a brand-new perspective.

Caire will ride as Lul’s Grand Marshal, which marks not only her first time as royalty, but also her first-ever time riding in the parade. Overall, she has not had the chance to ride in many, noting she has done so in a few New Orleans parades, but those were several years ago.

She’s very much looking forward to Saturday.

“We’ve always made a big deal out of it, my family and I,” she said. “We used to live right off the parade route when I was younger, and my aunt lived right on the route. We’d go and hang out and everyone had a good time. We’ve kept going since then and we just have a ball.

“I know it’s going to be so much fun to ride, but it’s also such an honor to be chosen and I feel honored to represent them. I’m excited about it … I’ll see so many people, I can’t wait. I’m having trouble sleeping, everything’s going through my mind, do I have this or that – but it’s exciting.”

She did not expect the news when she received it. Actually, she expected different news entirely.

“We met at my niece’s house. She said, ‘We have something to tell you.’ And my first thought was that my great niece is pregnant! But that wasn’t it. They said, ‘They want you to be Grand Marshal of the Luling parade. I was almost overwhelmed. I thought about it and said, wow, yeah, I want to,” Caire said.

“I was shocked. I really was. My husband passed away … I figured there would never be that chance (to ride) as Grand Marshal or King and Queen. I’ve never ridden in Lul and it’s something I always wanted to do.”

Caire grew up in Old Luling and has been very involved in her community over the years, including serving as the director of the River Parishes Retired and Senior Volunteer Program prior to her retirement.

Meanwhile, Odiong is the second parade Chaplain in Lul history. The first came five years ago, as Fr. Bernard C. Francis presided – an addition made to the parade in celebration of its 45th anniversary. This year being the 45th anniversary of Lul, parade organizers decided it would be fitting to add a Chaplain to the proceedings again.

Originally hailing from Calabar, Nigeria, Odiong was ordained in 1993. He served in Nigeria for a decade before moving to Austin, Texas, and he became associate pastor at St. Mary’s of the Assumption church. He also holds a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

Now the Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua church in Luling, a calling he accepted in 2006, he will no doubt see many of his parishioners from a different view on Saturday’s parade route – and he’s eager to do so.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Odiong. “I had the chance to ride in Orpheus several years ago, but never in Luling. So, this will be a big deal … it will perhaps give me a picture of the community I haven’t yet had the chance to see, to see everybody on the route, wherever they came from.”

He said the event brings people together for a joyful time each year, which he appreciates and which makes him all the more happy to join in the Krewe’s fun.

“It is only when love rejoices that you have a full celebration, and this (represents) a great love … Mardi Gras represents to me that on this land, blessed by God, we can roll out, throw beads, give gifts, all in the name to create one moment of happiness.

“Everybody unites as one. Nobody fights one another and the community bands together. It’s a true celebration of that community, and that’s one thing we need to uphold. So, when I was asked, I wanted to do it.”


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