Dig Baton Rouge

Life of the Spanish Town Grand Marshal

By Hannah Womack

Spanish Town has been one of Baton Rouge’s favorite Mardi Gras parades for over 30 years. Being the Grand Marshal of Spanish Town is the most honorable position someone involved can have. The SPLL, Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana, hand picks the Grand Marshal. It’s someone who has proven loyalty and embodies the Mardi Gras organization. It’s considered the “thank you” position, said board member Brian Nolan.

Mary Alice Gray has gone to Spanish Town parades her whole life and has been involved in the Spanish Town community since 2007. Being born and raised in Baton Rouge, she enjoyed the Mardi Gras season. Her neighbor was queen one year, and she always hoped to be a part of the festive Mardi Gras spirit.

“This is my year to be Grand Marshal,” said Gray.

It was a unanimous vote by the SPLL Board due to Gray’s community service and giving personality. To raise money for Spanish Town, Gray has been selling t-shirts for five years. At first, other people were in charge of selling the t-shirts, but Gray thought that she could do a better job. She took over t-shirt sales, and with her outgoing and persuasive personality, business instantly got better.

Gray said she loves every part of the Mardi Gras season, and says it’s like “a never-ending party.”

Nolan said Spanish Town could not happen without the help of their volunteers, and the board can always count on Gray. Anytime they need volunteer help, she promptly shows up. The Grand Marshal gets to kick off the season with the first toast at the Spanish Town ball, which was this past Saturday.

“[The ball] was a room full of 500 people in so many different shades of pink, it made your eyes swell,” Nolan said.

Spanish Town is noticeably different than most Mardi Gras krewes due to its use of the color pink and its location. Also, the organization doesn’t have a specific demographic—doctors, lawyers, from high class to low class, Nolan said.

“We always make it an effort to make Spanish Town an every man’s parade.”

This year’s Spanish Town Parade will roll on Saturday, Feb. 6 at noon.

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