The City of Plaquemine has one of the most elaborate Mardi Gras parades outside New Orleans and Baton Rouge with its Krewe of Comogo, the concept of a local woman who did not live long enough to see her dream fulfilled.
“Brenda Comeaux always wanted to have a nighttime parade and after she passed away, of course her brothers honored her wishes,” Plaquemine Mayor Ed Reeves said. “It’s an absolutely wonderful parade, what with its fancy floats and lights.”
“My sister had always dreamed of having a nighttime Mardi Gras run in Plaquemine,” said her brother Ralph Comeaux, one of the two brothers who changed her dream to a reality. He is assisted in large part by his brother, Edward Earl Comeaux.
“One of the women who had been involved with Brenda on the parade, Rhonda Harrell, she really wanted to get the parade going but it was just not going fast enough,” Ralph said.
“So they called the (Comeaux) brothers in and asked if we would be willing to help and we said yes,” he continued. He said his brother Earl told him, “If we’re going to go into this, we’re going to go big.”
“I don’t want it to just do it this year and then it’s going to drop off,” Earl continued telling his brother. “I want it to be permanent, a legacy to Brenda’s memory.”
“We decided that first year we were asked that yes, we were going to have a parade,” Ralph said of the parade that began in 2013. “So we rented 10 floats from a New Orleans float-maker.”
“We weren’t real impressed with those floats, but we got 11 the next year anyway,” he continued. “They wouldn’t let us have the ones we wanted so we had to settle on others, ones we weren’t particularly happy with.”
“My brother told me on my way back home, we’re not going to mess with them next year – we’re going to build our floats ourselves.”
“We decided to do our own after we got some second-rate floats and we’re limited to the time we can get them,” Edward Earl said. “We never got we wanted so I decided we needed to start building our own floats.”
Ralph said he warned his brother he was taking on a challenging project, but Edward Earl insisted.
“Building our first floats was an ordeal,” Ralph said. “My brother and I went to several places, like Houma and New Orleans, and looked at all the floats and how they were made.”
“I’m telling you, we’re building our own floats,” Earl said. “We’re going to try to get some people together and see if they want to be part of this and have their own float in our parade.”
“Earl picks up on that kind of stuff real quick and he knew pretty quickly what he wanted to do and then he started working on his first float,” Ralph said.
To illustrate how difficult building the caliber of floats that are in the Comogo parade, he said if he and Earl worked steadily on one float at a time, it would take three weeks to finish.
“It turned out better that what we thought,” Ralph said. “Earl had some really good ideas.”
Now, the brothers are up to 26 floats in all.
The two brothers formed an LLC, Comogo Floats, and began recruiting. There are currently seven people or companies who make a significant investment every year to make the parade a reality.
“I actually own one float but Earl owns 10,” Ralph said. Members of the krewe pay dues a riding fee and a fee for its annual gala. “Our gala is when we introduce our parade marshal. After he’s introduced, we have a dance.”
Then came the decision about whether to hold the parade at night, but the brothers quickly agreed to Brenda’s idea of a night parade, set each year for the Sunday night before Mardi Gras.
“It’s a much nicer parade at night than it would be in the daytime, I can tell you, because they are all lit up,” Earl said.
“The best thing about it is if we have a problem with the weather, by having our own floats we aren’t forced to run that day if it’s rainy or cold or whatever, we can move it to another day,” Ralph said. “Whereas if we rented them, we couldn’t because we had them for that day and that was it.”
The parade begins at St. John the Evangelist Church at 7 p.m., proceeds down Eden Street to Belleview Road, then ends at its intersection with Enterprise Boulevard.
Law enforcement advises arriving early because La. 1 southbound is blocked off after the parade begins. Belleview Road is closed down 30 minutes later.