Basile honors age-old traditions of Mardi Gras as leader hands o - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Basile honors age-old traditions of Mardi Gras as leader hands over the reigns

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Dozens gathered at the Pig Barn in Basile to celebrate Mardi Gras Tuesday morning the old fashioned way, chasing chickens, begging for money and playing tricks on those around town. 

For every Mardi Gras there comes a time to hang up the mask and hand the reigns over to someone else, no matter how hard that may be.  After 39 years leading the pack, Russel "Potic" Ryder is stepping down. 

"Being a Mardi Gras, It comes from inside you. It's a feeling inside of you and you have to go with it," Ryder says. 

Running Mardi Gras longer than he's been president of the Basile Mardi Gras Association, the 70-year-old says that while he can never fully step down from Mardi Gras, it's time to let the younger generation have a turn. 

"I just want to keep our heritage, culture, and tradition alive in this town," Ryder says. 

The younger generation is ready. Not afraid of taking chances. John Cortez takes hold of his new responsibilities as vice president and runs with them. Even if that means jumping in front of a camera, microphone in hand.  

"That man that's the president now, you'll never fill those shoes," Cortez says.

While he can never replace "Potic," John says he can still carry on the traditions.

"I've been Mardi Gras for 28 years now. This is not something we do--it's who we are, this is our way of life," 

As the Basile Mardi Gras dance, sing, and drink their way around town, they continue honoring age-old traditions handed down from generation to generation. 

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