Out-of-Town Reporter Gets Uncomfortable Taste of the ‘Real’ Mardi Gras at Mamou Courir
A WAFB reporter went down to Mamou to get the "real" Mardi Gras experience and it was all captured on a video that is now going viral.
The video was captured and uploaded to Facebook by Rick Portier, a WAFB photog who was on assignment with his reporter for the annual Courir de Mardi Gras in Mamou. A far cry from New Orleans Mardi Gras, Courirs (French for "run") have been around for centuries but in these small Cajun Louisiana towns, these "real" Mardi Gras traditions have been happening annually for decades.
According to historian and UL Lafayette Folklore department head Barry Ancelet, this "country Mardi Gras" tradition stems from the way the holiday was celebrated in the "rural section" of France "as opposed to the urban carnival."
Costumes conceal participants’ identity and allow them to parody roles in authority – men to dress like women, the rich to pose as the poor. High-pointed hats worn are called capuchons and parody the headdresses of noble ladies. Masks often include animal features like hair, fur or beaks. La capitaines, or captains, serve as leaders, keeping order and getting permission to enter private property. La Chanson de Mardi Gras, the Mardi Gras song, is sung at each home and echoes medieval melodies.
When Baton Rouge's WAFB came to town, I'm sure they were ready for some mischievous activity but nothing like what we saw go down in a video that is currently making its rounds on social media.
The clip opens up with the WAFB reporter getting ready for his stand-up shot. You can seed he's addressing someone off-camera. Soon, the Mardi Gras he was speaking with enters the frame.
The Mardi Gras tells the reporter to put his phone down because he's about to toss him (in his pristine white shirt) into a nearby ditch full of muddy water. The reporter is seen nervously chuckling as he politely declines the offer, but soon realizes that the Mardi Gras wasn't asking—he was telling him that he was going in that ditch.
In an instant, the Mardi Gras was putting the WAFB reporter over his shoulder and we had action. I'm almost certain that a combination of physics and shock caused the reporter to almost immediately flip completely upside down as both men began to fall.
The reporter and the Mardi Gras ended up tumbling to the ground in a fall that looked a lot more brutal than it actually was.
I'll be honest, I thought this situation would have gone south quickly, but the WAFB reporter got up and was a really good sport about the whole thing.
His shirt was no longer crisp or white, but he was all smiles.
He looked over at his photog, knowing that this entire fiasco was being caught on tape.
But the Mardi Gras wasn't letting up, telling him to hand over his phones and electronics—determined to get him into that ditch.
As things started to get hairy again, the photog gives the signal for the Mardi Gras to back off. You can hear the voice of the Capitane call off the Mardi Gras and the video ends with some colorful language.
Of course, the video got plenty of reactions ranging from outrage to laughter, but the photog gave a very detailed explanation that it was all in Mardi Gras fun.
Seems like you folks outside La need a little context.
I’ve been in Baton Rouge for 25 years. I’ve been to Mamou Mardi Gras well over 15 times. You never wear white to the Courrir du Mardi Gras. Guys like to get muddy and dirty up your pretty whites.
When the guy went up to my reporter, I was pretty sure he was going to mess with him a minute, then hug him to get him muddy.
When he picked him up, it shocked all of us, but watch the video. He didn’t body-slam anybody as people have suggested.
My reporter was top-heavy and flipped over the guy’s back. That momentum took them to the ground.
Now, the guy slapping the ground and screaming? That’s the way they cheer, laugh, cut up, and taunt the chicken here on Mardi Gras day.
My reporter got up laughing, and he was trying to give me his phones so he could let the guy throw him in the mud. It would have made great video.
Knowing how crazy that mud pit can get, and knowing we still had work to do, I stepped in and told the guy to back off.
Le Capitaine was in the background the entire time monitoring us. When he heard me tell the guy to back down, Le Capitaine came in and told him to back down. The guy backed down.
No harm. No foul.
Just another war story from the Courrir du Mardi Gras.
Even the Mardi Gras—Chet Guillory—chimed in to thank WAFB for coming down to cover their traditions and being such good sports about the whole thing.
So, like the photog said: No harm, no foul. Personally, I look forward to when reporters head out to the country to capture this fascinating tradition.
Every year, the juxtaposition of the two seems to deliver internet gold, and I think it's safe to say this WAFB reporter has been crowned with the best video of 2022.
Until next year.