Behind the scenes: Inside the warehouses crafting Baton Rouge Mardi Gras parade floats

PLAQUEMINE — If you’ve attended a Mardi Gras parade in Baton Rouge, you’ve likely marveled at the detailed floats weaving through the streets of the Capital City.

The vivid colors, intricate details, and flamboyant style of these massive floats contribute to the memorable atmosphere of the parades. For events like Artemis, Orion, Southdowns and Comogo, the creative process begins in unassuming warehouses located in Plaquemine.

“We build and rent Mardi Gras floats around the region,” Earl Comeaux, co-owner of Comogo Floats, LLC tells UWK. “Everywhere from Morgan City, Thibodaux, Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Addis … anybody within about a 60 mile radius we’ll rent out to.”

“We needed our own floats”

The concept behind the Mardi Gras float warehouse in Iberville Parish traces its roots back about 30 years to Brenda Comeaux’s dream of hosting a nighttime parade in the Baton Rouge area.

Regrettably, Brenda did not witness the realization of her dream, passing away from cancer in 2009.

“About a year after her passing, my brothers and I decided to get involved. We were determined to execute her vision and bring a parade to life, just as she had wanted,” says Comeaux.

In their inaugural year of Comogo, named after a combination of Brenda’s parents’ last names, ‘Comeaux’ and ‘Gauthreaux,’ the krewe rented floats from New Orleans, and the overwhelming community response fueled their determination to make the event self-sufficient.

“We needed our own floats. I’ve owned my own business since 1983, a general contractor. But I’ve never built a float. Never rode on a float. Never did either of the two until this krewe was formed. It was a learning process. We did some things wrong, we did some things right. But we got better as we went. And we kind of fine tuned the construction process.”

Growing float brigade

Guided by iconic Louisiana parades like the Krewe of Endymion, Comeaux and his brothers began crafting their own unique float designs. “From there on we kind of took off on our own ideas after that.”

Using pieces of trailers, Comeaux and his brothers started welding lower and upper decks to get the skeleton of the floats in place before framing the walls and designing the floats with paint and LED lights. That first year, the brothers built 13 floats, and each year, they’ve expanded their collection

Currently boasting a fleet of 44 floats, the krewe has even sold property to acquire a larger space for constructing additional floats.

More than Mardi Gras

The unconventional Mardi Gras Krewe isn’t limited to Mardi Gras alone. They’ve also crafted floats for Baton Rouge’s popular St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“It’s a year-round job keeping them up! You don’t redo every float you have, it’s just not feasible.” But we’re trying to do at least 15-20″

They repaint and rework close to 15-20 floats in the off-season.

Brenda’s dream lives on

Although Brenda never witnessed the vibrant energy of a nighttime parade in Plaquemine, her dream lives on. The Krewe of Comogo pays tribute to her with a leading float featuring a nearly 12-foot statue resembling Brenda, accompanied by a banner reading “In loving memory of Brenda Comeaux.”

This year, on Lundi Gras, February 12, the Krewe of Comogo will once again roll through the streets, continuing the legacy and celebrating the enduring spirit of Brenda Comeaux’s dream.

MORE: 2024 UWK Mardi Gras Guide

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