Vernon Higgins died as he lived – king of the Krewe of Lul.
Although it was his first time as parade royalty, it was certainly not his first time riding in a parade that he founded. Technically, it was his second year as king – along with his wife, Susette, as queen – because the parade was rained out the year prior.
Forty years before he first served as king, Higgins went to the courthouse in 1978 and got the permit that led to the Krewe of Lul parade.
“Him and a couple of buddies were in a bar and decided they wanted to start their own parade … a family-oriented parade,” said Higgins’ daughter Caitlin Higgins Comardelle of Ama.
Higgins, 70, died on Aug. 18.
He served as the Krewe’s president for nine years, but when it came to the parades he was ready to roll.
What was to become their last parade ride as a family was in Higgins’ “Mardi Gras Castle” sporting a colorful, seasonable array of purple, green and gold. He would not tell in advance what it was going to be because he wanted to keep it a secret until they rolled.
Asked to describe it, he mused, “I’m thinking it’s going to be a pretty good looking float, but I don’t want to say too much about it.”
His past designs included using cane reed on his Bahama Mamma theme and stucco on the Tequila Sunrise float.
But Higgins was most focused on the parade being as important to the crowd as to the riders.
He also worried that younger generations weren’t into Mardi Gras and envisioned adding classes in schools on how to build and decorate floats.
Higgin’s daughter, Audrey, said he loved Mardi Gras, but he was also a man who had a huge garden and brought vegetables and fruit to everyone in the neighborhood in Luling.
“If you came in contact with him you got vegetables,” she said.
Their parents had just attended Comardelle’s wedding in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
“He was very smart,” Audrey said. “He could figure anything out … fix anything. He was self-taught millwright.”
Higgins also had considerable experience with raising and training horses, she said. He had a farm for 25 years that also included cattle, pigs and chickens, and much of that knowledge came from uncle Milton Mongrue.
“Him and a couple of buddies were in a bar and decided they wanted to start their own parade.” — Cailin Higgins Comardelle
“To know Vernon is to love Vernon,” Comardelle said her friends’ commented about her father. “Many of them visited and didn’t want to leave because of Vernon and my mom who took everyone in.”
The sisters say their father was a man willing to teach, which earned their trust. His suggestions and advice were true and based on experience as a doer.
Comardelle added, “When he had something on his mind he set out and did it – like the parade.”
The Krewe of Lul
- 1978: Vernon Higgins went to the courthouse and got the permit that started the Krewe of Lul.
- 1996: The krewe’s first ball.
- 2018: The krewe celebrated its 41st year. Higgins recalled of his experience: “I could remember one year when we turned onto Paul Maillard Road and my buddy said, ‘Look at the crowd down the road. You started this.’ It was a good feeling.”