Acadiana veterans enjoy belated Mardi Gras celebration - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Acadiana veterans enjoy belated Mardi Gras celebration

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The Southwest Louisiana Veterans Home celebrated Mardi Gras a little late with a parade on Saturday, but it didn't matter to the veterans who had the time of their lives. 

The Mardi Gras Parade For Vets made sure to include all Fat Tuesday favorites.

Beads were brought on motorcycles. Live music filled the air. King cake was given out, and there was even a chicken chase. 

"I'm trying to draw attention to our veterans, and I'm trying to do stuff that's fun for people to get active and come out to these things. People don't want to go to something that's boring, and the veterans just fall asleep. That's not one thing they're going to do today while we're here, is fall asleep," said event organizer Robert LeBon.

Eighty volunteers from various organizations, such as Boy Scouts Troop 156 of Opelousas and Army Moms, made the event possible. 

One volunteer, who is a Vietnam veteran, was inspired to help fellow veterans five years ago after the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall stopped in Jennings. 

"I had PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] from being in Vietnam on the ground, and that wall helped me get over that and led me to be here, helping these veterans," said Mike Smith.

The event not only brought joy to the veteran residents but allowed them to connect with the veterans outside of the home.

"Oh, it makes me feel happy to be around my friends, and my fellow veterans, and the CNAs, and the nurses, and all the good people around here," said Army veteran Franklin Fontenot. 

"Well, it's like going to a dance, better spirit, and it makes you feel better," insisted Vietnam Army veteran Kelly Vidrine. 

"I like it very much. It's fun, and we always have good entertainment going on. We all meet some of our friends we hadn't seen for a long time. We enjoyed talking with one another," said WWII Navy veteran Levins J. Levergne.  

"I enjoy music, too. It was really touching. I enjoy the singing, and when they play that guitar, it really was nice," explained WWII Navy veteran Entoine Semien. 

The idea is for the veterans to feel connected and to be shown that they are still valued by the community. 

Eight-year-old volunteer Adrienne Benoit talked about how important it is to honor veterans for their service. 

"I think that's a big, big thing, and I think they deserve to live a good life at the veterans home. And, they shouldn't have to just: eat, sleep, wake up the next morning and eat, sleep, wake up the next morning...," said Adrienne. 

"I'm trying to let them know that they're  number one in this number one country," said LeBon.  

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