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Hurricane aid à la Mardi Gras

Among the silent auction items is this print of musicians “Canray Fontenot and Bois Sec Ardion” by Susan Kiefer of Lafayette, La. - Photo courtesy of Susan Kiefer Studio
Among the silent auction items is this print of musicians “Canray Fontenot and Bois Sec Ardion” by Susan Kiefer of Lafayette, La.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Susan Kiefer Studio

Good ole Southern cooking, song and dance send loving care to Dulac.

Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the Bayou – “Bainbridge Bayou,” that is – at Sunday’s Mardi Gras Dulac Dance at the Filipino American Hall.

Harbormaster Tami Allen, one of the event coordinators, calls this “Louisiana families helping Louisiana families with Southern food and music.”

“We’ve got Len Korslund and Barbara Deering working on the King Cakes (a Mardi Gras tradition), Chris St. Romain and family members on the jambalaya and barbecued chicken and Theresa Rice from planning on the fried apple pies,” said Allen.

There’s a lot of music to go with all this food (see box), plus dance lessons and a silent auction to raise more money for Dulac, a fishing village 11 miles south of Houma that was ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

This is the second fund-raiser for Dulac, the hometown of several islanders, including Claudette Boudreaux and St. Romain. They brought together an all-volunteer Bainbridge team to set up, cook, publicize and perform for hurricane relief last November and raised $2,000.

St. Romain carried the check back home, where members of his family are trying to rebuild their lives. He handed it to John Silva, who works with the Holy Family Humane Relief Fund through the Knights of Columbus at Holy Family Church.

St. Romain was born and raised in Dulac. He came to Bainbridge by way of the U.S. Coast Guard, where he spent more than 20 years on a military ice breaker out of Alaska.

A supervisor in the Bainbridge public works department, he makes frequent trips to Dulac.

“My sister lost everything, her job and her house,” said St. Romain. “I have aunts and uncles in the same (way)…in St. Bernard Parish and Meterie (near New Orleans). I went down there for a week to help them. My sister couldn’t go in her house. She kept crying.”

One uncle got a FEMA trailer to live in and that’s all he has. “I’m gonna die here,” the 82-year-old said to his nephew, crying. Another uncle passed away because of hurricane-related stress.

When St. Romain delivered the check on a chilly morning, there were already two or three families waiting in line for blankets at the church. When they heard St. Romain talk about the money, they ran over to hug and thank him.

“It made me feel good to do that,” St. Romain said. “The money really went a long way.”

The hurricanes’ devastation still is plain to see.

St. Romain couldn’t get over how whole houses and their foundations were picked up and dumped blocks away – it was an eerie feeling, he said – while others are so damaged they’ve been abandoned.

Seeing people painstakingly try to clean up their homes and the children to whom he gave bags of candy showed a town that was coming back.

“There’s always hope,” St. Romain said. “It’s the little things. A little kid getting an MP3 player or a bicycle from people he didn’t know. I got a picture book with photographs that I’ll bring on Sunday to show everybody.”

Allen hopes the dance draws 150 people.

“It’s all ages and we really do mean that there’s a jam,” she said.

Allen and Boudreaux will take the stage with their Whozyamama band mates. Later this month, Boudreaux will bring all the proceeds from the event to Dulac.

The town’s coming back, St. Romain said, slowly but surely.

* * * * *

Ça c’est bon

The Mardi Gras Dulac Dance runs from 2 to 9 p.m. at the Filipino American Hall, 7566 N.E. High School Road. Admission is by suggested donation of $20.

Musical guests include Seattle blues group Stranger by the Minute at 3 p.m.; an all-ages jam at 4 p.m.; a zydeco dance lesson with MaryLee Lykes at 5 p.m.; and Whozyamama at 6 p.m. followed by swing band Modern Dinosaurs.

Silent auction items include Rebecca Wells-autographed Ya-Ya book trilogy; a handmade bench by Jason Roger of Lafourch Parish, La.; and a watercolor print by Lafayette artist Susan Keifer.

Sold separately are jambalaya, barbecued chicken, King Cake and fried apple pies. All proceeds benefit Dulac families. Musical instrument donations are welcomed to help hurricane-affected musicians.

For more information see www.whozyamama.com or call 855-4108.

Community Events, April 2014

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