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Biology major to reign over New Orleans’ largest Mardi Gras parade

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University of Louisiana at Lafayette student Hannah Autin wanted yellow flowers, and yellow flowers she got.

Wishes, after all, do come true for the Queen of Endymion.

Presiding over New Orleans’ largest Mardi Gras parade brings duties beyond riding alone in her own float. Autin had a hand in decorating for the Queen’s Party she hosted on Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Roosevelt hotel in New Orleans. At her urging, traditional Mardi Gras decorations of purple, gold and green were interspersed with yellow.

“It’s my favorite color, so we went with yellow flowers,” Autin explained.

She also helped cater the Queen’s Party. Along with dishes such as shrimp and grits, French fries were on the menu for 285 guests.

“I’ve always loved them,” said Autin, a 21-year old junior at UL Lafayette who plans to apply to medical school after she earns a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Each year, the queen is selected by the captain of Endymion, with input from an executive board. 

Mardi Gras is important in her household.

“It’s always a big deal with my family. We cook, and we always used to camp out on St. Charles Avenue when I was a little kid,” said Autin, who is from Galliano, La.

The season of Mardi Gras signals celebrations and feasts that begin on or after the Epiphany, a Christian observance on Jan. 6.

Mardi Gras, the French term for Fat Tuesday, ends the day before Ash Wednesday. A Holy Day of fasting, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter.

The parade, which began in 1967, is named for the Greek mythological figure Endymion.

This year, the Krewe of Endymion will roll at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10. Floats will wind through Mid-City streets such as Carrollton Avenue, Canal Street, St. Charles Avenue and LaSalle Street.

The Queen’s Float will be positioned third, behind the Captain’s Float and a float carrying the Krewe of Endymion maids.

Jon Batiste, a composer and jazz musician born in Kenner, La., will be grand marshal.

The parade theme is “Jazz: Our Gift to the World.” The Krewe of Endymion’s motto is “Throw ’til it Hurts.”

Some of an expected one million spectators will have a chance to catch about 15 million beads, doubloons and other trinkets tossed by about 3,000 riders from 37 floats.

The parade will end at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. About 20,000 partygoers will hear concerts by Rod Stewart and Jason Derulo during the Endymion Extravaganza.

Autin’s father, Shull Autin, has ridden in the Endymion parade for 15 years.

The elder Autin, who is president of an offshore supply boat company, said Mardi Gras means more to him than music and merriment.

“It allows people, many who live far away, to see firsthand that people in south Louisiana are fun-loving, God-fearing individuals,” he said.

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