Mrs. Jane Purser, Rotarian of the week, presented the program for the Rotary Club of Winnfield’s meeting on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. Mrs. Purser chose a timely topic, the history of the Mardi Gras Krewe of Kingfish in Winn Parish, as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) falls on February 16, 2021 this year.
Mrs. Purser spoke about the initial organization of the Krewe of Kingfish and the inaugural Mardi Gras Parade sponsored and led by the Krewe. It occurred in the year 1993, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Huey Long. Max Kelly, the Mayor of Winnfield at the time, organized a yearlong celebration of the occasion with a special event planned for each month of the year, and asked Mrs. Purser’s husband, Don Purser, to plan the special event for the month of February 1993. Mr. Purser, who had resided in South Louisiana for several years and observed the Mardi Gras parades and celebrations in that area, as well as the renewal of the festivities in North Louisiana cities such as Shreveport and Bossier City a few years before, decided a Mardi Gras parade was just the thing for February. He set about organizing the Krewe of Kingfish, which began with 33 charter members, and continues the celebration of Mardi Gras to the present. It was an audacious idea for this area, and the Krewe had to do a lot of hard work to perfect the float with which it led the parade, but when the float rounded the corner from Pineville Street to Main Street for the first time, Main Street was packed with crowds all the way to the end of the parade route at the Methodist Church and the parade was a rousing success, which continues to the present.
Mr. Bo Walker, a longtime Rotarian and a charter member of the Krewe of Kingfish, spoke of the work he did as a Krewe member in the early days to prepare the float and prepare for the parade, including carpentry, painting, decorating. He spoke fondly of the new friends and close relationships that developed within the Krewe members as they spent time together working toward their common goals of creating community as well as economic benefits to the local area.
Mr. Keith Gates, a current member of the Krewe of Kingfish, spoke about the current status of the Krewe, which is thriving and active. He mentioned the Krewe has recently changed the title of Treasurer to that of Purser, the title of one who handles the finances on a ship and also the name of the inaugurator of the Krewe. Mr. Gates reported that the parade will not take place this year, but the Krewe fully expects to resume parading in 2022, and the date is already set.
The Rotary Club of Winnfield meets every Wednesday at Noon for lunch at Lynda’s Country Kitchen. For more information about the Rotary Club of Winnfield, you may contact President, Jodi Taylor (832) 573-5085. You can also find club information on Facebook at Rotary Club of Winnfield Facebook Page or online at Rotary.org.