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Special Report: Keep the Good Times Rolling - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Special Report: Keep the Good Times Rolling

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PORT ARTHUR -

Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas began 22 years ago and has become a way of life for Southeast Texans, but those who brought the festivities here are hoping their tradition stays alive.

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday and always takes place before Ash Wednesday. It began as a way for those planning to participate in the Lenten season to let loose and indulge, but for those like Jody Holton it's more about the celebration.

"This gives everyone a chance to get together and you get to see old friends you maybe haven't seen in a year and you make new friends and meet new people, its just so fun," Holton said.

Linda Hebert helped start the tradition in Southeast Texas. She said it's grown over the years from 10 floats to 40 and now takes place over several days. But she said she's watched her krewe shrink from about 200 members to eight, and she's worried the tradition will diminish.

"When we started this a lot of us were 40, 50, 60... now we're 60, 70, 80," Hebert said. "The 80 year olds are dropping out the 70 year olds aren't doing much. We can't do it all... we need the help and it would be so much fun for them," Hebert said.

The older generation is trying to come up with new ideas, like Beans and Jeans, to get the younger generation involved. Beans and jeans is a kickoff party that started two years ago and has proven to be very successful, doubling the number of attendees in just one year.

"It was an opportunity for all the krewes in the area to get together and kick off Mardi Gras visit with old friends just have a great time together," Holton said.

Last year a new krewe was created for young adults called Krewe de Reine. Reine means queen in french and is named after it's founder Carrie Queen.

"I'm a Port Arthur girl and several of the members that grew up there have been going to Mardi Gras their whole life so why not form a krewe?" Queen asked.

Queen also said she's hoping more young people follow her lead to get more involved by joining her krewe, or starting their own.

"I don't want it to fade away it's been such a big part of our community for so long and it's a great thing and people enjoy it so much," she said.

Krewes are social clubs with members who build their own parade floats to represent both the organization and a specific theme or idea. The krewes pay for their own floats, as well as their beads and parties, all so the public can enjoy the festivities. They're also giving back to the community in other ways.

"We're going to be able to offer proceeds from our krewe fundraisers to our king and queen of the krewe and let them choose a charity of their choice," Queen said.

In order to keep the bead throwing and party going down on Proctor St. young people's involvement is crucial to keep the good times rolling in Southeast Texas.

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