Dig Baton Rouge

What the flock? Spanish Town 101.

New to Baton Rouge? Or are you just out of the loop? We’re here to get you prepared for the annual Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade. Take notes.

What is Spanish Town?
You’ll know you’re in Spanish Town when you start seeing more pink flamingos in yards than usual. The area is on the National Register of Historic Places and was commissioned by Don Carlos de Grandpre, the governor of West Florida, in 1805. Yeah, it’s really old. Spanish Town is bounded by State Capitol Drive, 5th, 9th and North Streets in downtown Baton Rouge. According to the Spanish Town Civic Association, it was in the 1920s that the neighborhood began to appeal more to LSU students and faculty and became more populated.

Why are there so many flamingos?
Spanish Town is…different. I guess you could say it’s the hip neighborhood in downtown Baton Rouge. According to the Spanish Town Mardi Gras website, decades ago, the neighborhood was seen as “questionable” by other parts of Baton Rouge. Residents of Spanish Town decided to own it and put up bright pink lawn ornaments, saying “So what if you think we are ‘questionable?’ That’s better than being boring.” Today, many neighborhoods around the capital city display their flamingos with pride, with some artists even selling their versions during the Mardi Gras season.

Because of the flamingo’s influence, it’s pretty much law that you have to wear pink to the parade. Feather boas, tutus and hot pink headwear are not uncommon sights on the parade route. This parade takes the typical Mardi Gras craziness and kicks it up a notch when it comes to costumes.

Isn’t there a parade?
Yeah, only the biggest Mardi Gras parade in Baton Rouge. The annual Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade started in 1982, and since the beginning, the theme has been a nod to politics or current events.

This year’s theme is “Come Hell or High Water, It’s Slippery When Wet.” It rolls at noon on Feb. 25.

The parade started out small, with only a few people from the neighborhood, but has grown much larger in recent years. From the beginning, the parade has not been described as “family friendly” and often has a raunchy tone and elaborate floats that are sometimes offensive. Last year, parade organizers received backlash for jokes about the Black Lives Matter movement and sexual abuse. On Jan. 19, Spanish Town Mardi Gras organizers posted a message of inclusiveness for the 2017 parade.

Unlike more traditional Krewes in New Orleans, Krewes in the Spanish Town Parade use more tongue-in-cheek names, such as “Krewe of Krime” and “Krewe of Roadkill.” Awards are given out at the end of the parade.

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