It was a chilly Thursday in New Orleans – 45 degrees to be exact-but thousands were still lined up for the third annual Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade from Poydras to the French Market.
A parade filled with marvelous music to sing along to, talented dancers, brightly colorful floats, goodies for the children, and American Idol finalist Burnell Taylor as the parade’s grand marshal, Pogue didn’t expect the vast number of people to flood the streets of New Orleans.
“I don’t think anybody felt that weather,” said Pogue after arriving to his hotel. “I think we had more people than we have ever had, even in hot weather.”
Before hitting the French Market, Pogue said their float had run out of beads to toss out to the crowd. Thirty minutes before the parade started, the World Famed Tiger Marching Band practiced their scales in front of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Drum major Robert Coleman smiled as he led the band in tempo; this would be his third Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade and his last.
“It means you made it,” said Coleman, a Dallas native.”When I got here as a grab, they said you weren’t officially apart of World Famed until you make it to Bayou Classic, it’s like crossing over almost.”
Coleman said it didn’t hit him that this was going to be his last Bayou Classic and parade until the Battle of the Bands last Friday night.
In 1996 Jordan Harvey went to his first Bayou Classic with his family. Years ago, Harvey’s stepfather and brothers attended Grambling State and its tradition has been instilled in him. After the Student Government Association president’s last Bayou Classic, Harvey said “it’s a certain awe in calling something” his last.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” said Harvey. “Even being able to represent such a prestigious university.”
Jumping up and down, waving his hands in the air to pump up the crowd, it finally hit Grambling State cheerleader Baldwin Louis during the Thanksgiving parade. Although every year the music major hasn’t been able to spend Thanksgiving with his family, Louis has instead spent it with his second family-the cheerleaders.
“It was great because we eat together, laugh and have fun every year,” said Louis. “I also had fun entertaining the crowd and my Gram Fam.”
A Brooklyn native, Louis said it has been a blessing to be a part of the Bayou Classic festivities throughout his tenure at Grambling. Knowing that this semester and next several of his teammates will be graduating has put a weight over Louis’ shoulders because “it will be tough” because they have all grown to become very close.
“Being that this was my last parade and game as a cheerleader in the Bayou Classic hit me hard,” said Louis, who will graduate in May. “As the last few seconds ticked on the clock, I shed some tears.”
Sitting on top of the Southern University’s Royal Court float, Simone Bray stood out with a fashionable leopard printed scarf. She wanted to make an impression and represent her university well because this would be her last Bayou Classic.
“The parade was very exciting for me!” said Bray. “Although it was extremely cold, I was very elated to see all of the fans from both schools there!”
A Baton Rouge native, Bray is the Student Government Association president at SU. A senior mass communication major, Bray said her last parade has not sunk in yet.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” said Bray, “something tells me I’ll be back for many years to come!”