Atchafalaya Basin Landing Airboat Swamp Tours Year End Review

Basin Landing Airboat Swamp Tours, like so many other businesses, had an unforgettable year in 2020. Unforgettable in a good way or a bad way? Maybe a little bit of both, it turns out. We started this year off with a bang way back in February by rebuilding the docks and turning Captain Nick’s boat into a one-of-a-kind “airfloat” for the Henderson and Youngsville Mardi Gras parades, taking home the #1 and #2 Best Float prizes, respectively.

In March, we were pleased to receive some good press in the way of a Lafayette Travel article naming Turtle’s Bar a “Must Visit” destination. By early spring the COVID-19 pandemic had begun to rear its ugly head, and we had to pull together as a family and decide how to make the best out of the circumstances. We held our very first ever virtual tour on April 1st, where 7500 people joined us on an online adventure deep into the woods of the Atchafalaya Basin. We realized more so than any other time in the history of our business how much friends and family mean during a situation that affected the entire world. We consider ourselves very fortunate that our outdoor business was still able to operate at lower capacities.

Though we lost all of our international and most of our domestic travelers due to quarantine regulations, we found that the locals began to call us more often looking for something safe and fun to do. We are so happy to have been able to put a smile on people’s faces during times where everyone was tired of being stuck indoors by taking them out for an airboat swamp tour. We made so many new friends over the spring and summer.

Spring of 2020 also marked the beginning of the fishing tournament season, where teams turned out rain or shine for the 2020 King of Henderson tournaments. In late April, we partnered up with new vendors to begin offering a broader variety of tackle inside the General Store when it reopened, bringing his awesome products to our anglers. With everyone unable to travel, we had an incredibly busy fishing season!

June ushered in some severe weather and the beginning of an active hurricane season. The Good Lord was looking over us again, as we suffered no major damage during any of the storms. We expanded our gift options in the gift shop with the addition of the brightly colored, tough Swamp Box coolers, a popular item with our fishermen. We also added a whole aisle of new apparel, including long sleeve tees, leather patch trucker hats, regular trucker hats, fishing shirts and short sleeve ladies tees.

A busy and productive alligator season began in September, and we were so excited that our very own Captain Micah and our good friend B.J. Robert snagged a 13 foot long gator north of I-10. B.J. had the gator mounted and it will be on display it his restaurant “Swamp Tales” in Illinois. The unfortunate events of this year also led us to our own COVID silver lining, as we were able to take Nick and Christine’s family on a deer hunting trip over the Thanksgiving holidays.

We are no worse for wear, and we are proud of our hardworking team for never throwing in the towel this year. It was all hands on deck, and we have made it to the end of 2020. We are looking forward to a quiet and reflective Christmas, and we sincerely hope that 2021 is a fresh year filled with gratitude and new beginnings. The weather is intermittently comfortable, so book your airboat swamp tour today and let our family take your family on an adventure you won’t forget! Call us at 337.228.7880 or visit us at basinlanding.com.   

A Brief History of Louisiana Mardi Gras

Of all the things Louisiana is famous for around the world, Mardi Gras is probably the number one association people make when they think of the boot-shaped state located at the mouth of the Mississippi River. While several different accounts continue to circulate about who celebrated this holiday first, many historians  and historical websites generally agree that it was born from a different Commonwealth holiday called “Pancake Day” or Shrove Tuesday. 
 
Explorer Pierre La Moyne discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River on such a Shrove Tuesday and named it Bayou De Mardi Gras. He named the actual place where he made landfall “Pointe De Mardi Gras.” His brother Jean Babtiste would later form a settlement in the crescent of the river, a hundred miles north of the mouth. He would name this settlement “Nouvelle Orleans.” In 1702, he also founded Mobile, Alabama as the first capital of French Louisiana.

Some records show that the first record of an organized Mardi Gras occurred the following year in Mobile, which was part of Louisiana’s territory at the time. This is why you find such French sounding destinations like “Dauphin Island” in or near  Mobile to this day. Back in New Orleans, slaves were escaping with the assistance of American Indians, who would collaborate together to become the first Mardi Gras Indians and start the ages old New Orleans tradition of “Les Flambeaux.” The New York Times would eventually write an incredible history of these “keepers of the light,” which can be found in their archives here. 

Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras Origins

Further west in South Louisiana, Cajun settlers celebrated their own version of Mardi Gras. It was less glamorous than its New Orleans counterpart, and mostly held in rural areas.

According to CODOFIL president and Louisiana folklorist Barry Ancelet, the traditional Cajun Mardi Gras, also known as the “courir de mardi gras” borrowed much of it’s origins from Catholic Medieval Europe, specifically the act of begging for food, which was at the time, an acceptable behavior. This act of going house to house and asking the head of the household for ingredients to prepare a later meal for the participants eventually led to the tradition of chasing chickens by the courir participants as a form of entertainment for the land owners. 
 
Though Mardi Gras season in Cajun Country became notably more quiet during the Great Depression and WWI/WWII, a revival began to surface in the 1960’s with a much needed boost from the increasing cultural significance of Cajun/French music, also in the midst of its own renaissance. Cajun artists like Floyd Sonnier, Herb Roe and Frances Pavy have dedicated a lot of their time to preserving the look of the original revelers in their substantive bodies of work. 

Visit South Louisiana
During Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras in Cajun Country will begin February 14th with events and parades throughout Acadiana popping up until Fat Tuesday, February 25th. If you are looking for a more family friendly, slower paced Mardi Gras, Acadiana has what you are looking for. Book an airboat swamp tour today by calling 337.228.7880.