The countdown is on to Fat Tuesday (2/28)! Parades and chicken runs are scheduled throughout southwest Louisiana, and we don't want you to miss a minute of the purple, green and gold fun of Mardi Gras.

Thanks to our friends at the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, there's even an app for that to download to your phone! And here's a list so you can decide where you'd like to spend your time catching the best throws and having the best time.

 

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    Mardi Gras Merchants' Parade

    Friday, February 24th

    Business and social organizations roll down the streets throwing beads and having just as much fun as those in attendance. It's one of the best-attended parades in the area, and kicks off the Mardi Gras weekend! It starts at the Civic Center, continues down Ryan Street, and ends on Sale Road.

  • Vinton Mardi Gras Celebration

    Saturday, February 25th

    The Knights of Columbus get the party started in downtown Vinton when they start cooking gumbo at 10:00. The parade starts at Vinton Middle School at 1:00 and ends at the KC Hall where judging for the gumbo cookoff takes place and free tasting begins.

  • Krewe of Omega Parade

    Saturday, February 25th

    The Krewe of Omega parade will begin at 2:00 on the north side of the Lake Charles Civic Center to Broad St,  turn left onto Enterprise, then left on Mill St, and head back to the Civic Center.

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    Krewe of Barkus Parade

    Saturday, February 25th

    Mardi Gras goes to the dogs during this very popular, well-attended parade. Feel free to bring your four-legged family members dressed in their best costumes for a chance to capture the title of "Mystical Dog." The parade of pooches begins at 3:00 at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

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    Mardi Gras Chidren's Day & Parade

    Sunday, February 26th

    Activities begin at noon at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Kids will learn about what makes Mardi Gras so unique through fun, educational activities. Krewes should pack plenty of throws for the parade that begins at 3:30! It starts at the north end of Bord du Lac Drive, crosses over Lakeshore Drive onto West Mill Street, turns right onto Ryan Street and continues south on Ryan to Sale Road where it ends.

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    Mardi Gras Lighted Boat Parade

    Sunday, February 26th

    What's the point of living in a city with a large lake if you can't have a boat parade? Grab a spot on the Lakefront Promenade and watch these beautifully lit vessels glide across the water starting at 7:00.

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    Iowa Chicken Run

    Tuesday, February 28th

    The Iowa Chicken Run is the epitome of the traditional Cajun Mardi Gras! Anyone who wants to know how folks on the prairie celebrated Fat Tuesday should plan to wake up early, wear comfortable clothes, and plan to pass a good time all day long. The "run" starts at 8AM at the Knights of Columbus Hall located at 503 E Highway 90 in the town of Iowa. You can get all your instructions when you get there, or read all about it here, so you are prepared for the experience! There is a $10 entry fee for adults. Children 12 and under pay $5.

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    NEW! Second Line Stroll

    Tuesday, February 28th

    The Second Line Stroll is brand new to Lake Charles! It will be a walking parade, although participants may pull wagons. There is a $5 per person entry fee, or $50 for groups of 10 or more people. Anyone participating in the parade must wear family-friendly costumes or traditional Mardi Gras colors. Lineup begins at 10AM, and the parade begins at 1PM. Entry forms and complete parade rules are available through the Mardi Gras of Southwest Louisiana Inc.

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    Jeeps on Parade

    Tuesday, February 28th

    Jeepers get to celebrate in their own unique way when they roll down Ryan Street at 2:00 to celebrate Fat Tuesday.

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    Motor Gras Parade

    Tuesday, February 28th

    Following the Jeeps, hot rods, motorcycles, and classic cars will take over the parade route starting at 3:00.

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    Krewe of Krewes Mardi Gras Parade

    Tuesday, February 28th

    Wrapping up a full weekend of revelry is the Krewe of Krewes parade. At least 80 krewes are featured on float after float filled with beads and people in elaborate costumes. They roll by attendees waiting to catch the best beads of the carnival season. It begins at 5:00 at the north end of Bord du Lac Drive, crosses over Lakeshore Drive onto West Mill Street, turns right onto Ryan Street and continues south on Ryan to Sale Road where it all comes to an end.

  • Crowley's Carnival d'Acadie

    This is the 17th year that the city of Crowley has celebrated Mardi Gras. Dustin Sonnier kicks off the entertainment in the morning. Wear your costumes because there is a contest! There will be more music by Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns. The parade is at 3:00, and then more music with Chris Ardoin.

  • Traditional Mardi Gras Run (Getty Images)

    Tee-Mamou Iota Mardi Gras Folklife Festival

    This traditional Louisiana prairie Mardi Gras festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Music begins at 10AM in downtown Iota. Local arts and crafts vendors will be there and, of course, great food will be available. The Courir de Mardi Gras will return from there run to parade through town at 1:30.