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Chasing the Mardi Gras chickens in Mamou

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MAMOU - Mardi Gras revelers in Evangeline Parish ditched big floats and sidewalks for muddy fields and horses today, part of a tradition that's as old as Cajun country itself.

The costumed riders traveled around the area to people's homes before ending at the site of the annual chicken chase. The practice is known as a "Courir de Mardi Gras," or Mardi Gras run, which started as a pre-Lent festival in rural medieval France. People would perform for ingredients to make a community meal, typically including live chickens.

The captain of today's Mamou parade says things really haven't changed in the last few hundred years.

"We go to each house, and they dance for the chicken," said captain Gary Brignac. "People will give it to us, we cut the chicken loose and you see what's going on up here."

Unlike other areas which saw thinner parade crowds because of Tuesday's dismal weather, revelers in Mamou said the muddy conditions made the chase even better.

"We're a bunch of die-hard Mardi Gras-ers," Brignac said. "We gonna have fun, and rain or shine we gonna do it."

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