Krewe of Omega keeps spirits up despite downpour
Despite rainy weather, the Krewe of Omega rolled out onto the streets of Hammond for the 31st time to celebrate Mardi Gras with a parade.
On Feb. 17 at 6 p.m., the crowd felt the excitement as the parade began.
“The parade is magical,” said Soline Holmes, former Queen Omega XXIX. “While riding on the floats is fun, being in the crowd and watching the parade is a real treat too. There is a general excitement as Omega rolls through the streets of Hammond. The krewe is known for being very generous with its throws.”
The stormy weather posed a possible drawback for the krewe’s plans to roll on Friday evening.
“I was obsessively checking the weather on my phone,” said Holmes. “The weather was looking better, so we all loaded the floats. Around 6 p.m., half an hour before our parade was to roll, the skies opened up. We were all really sad and nervous that the parade might be cancelled.”
Captain of the Krewe of Omega Joyce Smith explained how the weather was an obstacle in possible cancellation of the parade, but the krewe decided to roll anyway due to expenses and loyal parade goers.
“We really could not plan to reschedule because of the cost,” said Smith. “The floats that we used are used again and again, so the rescheduling thing, not only would we have to pay again, we would have to take a date when they weren’t being used. We had to make a decision that night as to whether to roll or not roll. And since the rain was a steady, slow rain, we decided that we would roll, but also because there were people out there waiting for us.”
Parade goers caught beads and trinkets in rain ponchos and underneath umbrellas.
“Of course the rain did affect the crowd numbers, but we were amazed at the number of people that braved the weather to view the parade,” said Queen Omega XXXI Cathy Roberts. “Those die-hard parade goers were rewarded with tons of beads, stuffed animals and our signature decorated Aligras. Naturally, I would have preferred to have had a beautiful night for our parade, but rain can’t dampen our reign. I felt I had an obligation to our krewe and all the faithful parade goers to set the tone of the parade Friday night, and that was rain or shine the good times will roll.”
Roberts has been a part of the krewe for 11 years. Being an experienced member of the Krewe of Omega, she related her experience from being Queen XXXI to previous years.
“I have been on the Board of Directors for the past three years, serving as secretary for two years,” said Roberts. “It is extremely difficult to compare this year to any other year. Being Queen of Omega has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life but also totally unique in itself.”
Smith, who has been a member of the krewe for 20 years, praised the quality of this year’s parade.
“This was an exceptional parade,” said Smith. “It was longer than any we’ve had before. We had a lot of local participants that I’m very, very happy we had. It was the very best route. We had more parking than ever. And our members were so excited about the parade that they just couldn’t wait to get on the road.”
The floats lined up at the University Center and the route traveled down North General Pershing Street, going through the university, passing through Friendship Circle, making it’s way into Downtown Hammond and then finally returning back where it started.
Those who had intended on going, but were not able to make it, still have a chance to watch a video of the event online.
“I have someone who films the parade,” said Smith. “We hopefully put it on Youtube, that if our members wanted to see the parade, which is something we don’t see, we could always roll it and see it on Youtube.”
Smith believes that despite the wet weather the parade was an overall success.
“I would like to say it went as smoothly as it could possibly go,” said Smith. “The Hammond Police Department are the ones who made it happen that way. They were the ones who stood out there in the rain and they are the ones who have been there for 31 years who have worked this parade without incident. I would say, I wouldn’t change anything we’ve done.”
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