NEW ORLEANS - Although clarinetist Pete Fountain died last year, Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Walking Club strutted from Commander's Palace restaurant to the French Quarter on Tuesday, tossing beads and doubloons to recordings of his music.
A man from Baton Rouge was among those leading the way. After being a part of the group for some three decades, Rudy Landry was asked to take Fountain's seat at the head of the walking krewe.
"They said 'man, would you sit up there in that chair?' I said 'would I?!' What a treat, what a pleasure."
Tuesday was the first time in 57 years that Fountain did not lead the float. With Landry, one of Fountain's biggest fans and admirers, at the helm, the tradition continued.
"We're so used to him being there, its just a different feeling," Landry said. "It's good, but it's different."
A banner bore a photo of Fountain showing his eyes closed and hands folded in prayer. But, that was the only solemn note.
After a toast, the club moved through the city, decked out from hat to shoes in nearly fluorescent spring green for this year's theme "Pete in the Limelight".
"He was one hell of a guy," Landry said about his friend in a recent interview with WBRZ.
Fountain died in August.