Safety leading up to Mardi Gras

Participants in the parade throw beads and cups to attendees. The “Krewe of Omega Mardi Gras Parade” included Mardi Gras and animal-themed floats that went through Hammond. Zachary Araki/The Lion's Roar 

Tangipahoa – Reshaping Attitudes for Community Change and Student Outreach and Advocacy Representatives offered a safe environment for community members as they waited for the Mardi Gras parade to roll through Hammond.

“In the Zone” offered a safe, alcohol and tobacco-free environment leading up to the “Krewe of Omega Mardi Gras Parade,” which started on North General Pershing Street at 6:30 p.m. TRACC Community Outreach Coordinator Katy Cochran explained why TRACC holds “In the Zone.”

“It’s important that all of our community members are able to enjoy certain things that go on in our community,” said Cochran. “So with the Mardi Gras parade, a lot of people enjoy Mardi Gras, but unfortunately, it is associated with that alcohol and drinking. It is an exciting time, so we want to make sure that all of our community members can participate. So, we like to offer a family-friendly environment where people feel safe and comfortable to bring out their kids and know that they’re going to be able to enjoy themselves as well, away from all that alcohol and tobacco use.”

 

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TRACC member Paula Zachary discussed the preparation put into the event.

“We get other agencies involved, and they bring their games and whatever they want to pass out for the kids, and they stay involved with the coalitions,” said Zachary. “It’s all kinds of people coming together.”

Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator for Southeast Community Health Systems Rosa Locascio returns to “In the Zone” year after year for the kids.

“It’s a place to be safe for them, and at the same time, they have fun while we’re waiting for the parade,” said Locascio.

Sophomore biological sciences major Tegan Scott shared why E.L.I.T.E. Women participated in the event.

“We just wanted to have an impact on the community,” said Scott. “We wanted to show how we are leaders, and we are enjoying the time with the kids, hopscotching or using the chalk, and we give them beads and footballs just to encourage them.”

Krissi Sims attended “In the Zone” and the parade with her son.

“I think it was great,” said Sims. “I love coming to the Hammond parade because my son loves it, and my friend Morgan loves it too.”

According to Cochran, the event has grown each year, reaching around 300 to 400 attendees since its inception in 2010.

Cochran said, “We’ve gotten feedback from some parents who have children who have really bad asthma, and they’ve told us that they were really excited because they were always worried they weren’t able to take their children to a lot of public events because that secondhand smoke triggers their asthma attack. So, I think that’s something that’s just awesome feedback that we’ve gotten even if we get to help one family with one child to come out and enjoy something they normally wouldn’t get to do.”

TRACC was started in 2008 to promote substance misuse prevention. 

Cochran said, “Based off of a lot of the state surveys that we see, we’ve seen in Louisiana that it’s kind of part of our culture, this use of alcohol and tobacco and drugs. So, we’re just trying to spread that message to our community members and let them know that there are alternatives, and we are not necessarily for prohibition. We think that it is our right to drink when you’re of age and not to do it in excess. And that’s something too that we like to promote, that you can have a good time, but know the limit, always drink responsibly, have a designated driver. That’s really what TRACC is about.”

Sims shared her thoughts on Mardi Gras, the parade’s theme.

“I think it brings a lot of people together, lots of different cultures, and I just think the little kids enjoy it too,” said Sims. 

Scott hopes to return to “In the Zone” next year.

“It’s really fun,” said Scott. “We got our decorations out. We got our beads out. We had a lot of kids come and play, and they love the footballs. They love the beads, and I just had a great time. It’s a little chilly, but other than that, it’s been a great experience.”

 

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