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Vergennes resident to bring Bourbon Street to city Memorial Day parade

VERGENNES — For the past 20 years, Beth Marr has celebrated Memorial Day with a traditional feast at her house. The menu is standard Cajun fare every year: corn-on-the-cob, sweet onions, Polish sausage and a secret spice potion created by the Vergennes resident herself.
For Marr, who originally comes from Louisiana and learned the recipes from her grandmother, the yearly meal is a tradition that falls around her birthday.
Ten years ago, Marr’s friends surprised her with a Memorial Day float on her 40th.
“My friends showed up at the house and they said, ‘This year you’re not watching the parade — you’re in the parade,’” she said.
The group dressed in attire from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.
This year, the self-styled “Cajun Queen” will mark another milestone birthday — her 50th — by bringing New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street to Vergennes in the Memorial Day parade with a float titled “Beast of Bourbon.”
The float consists of a purple bathtub coated in gold fleur de lis with Marr seated inside. From her bathtub, she’ll be throwing a mixture of stuffed animals, to-go cups (travel cups distributed at New Orleans taverns), moon pies and, of course, Mardi Gras beads, which have been shipped from friends and family in Louisiana and other locations.
Marr estimated the float will distribute 20,000 “throws” to the parade’s bystanders.
“In the South, a ‘throw’ is anything you throw,” she explained. “For us, that means candy, cups, trinkets and moon pies.”
Marr described being able to throw goodies some 20,000 times as a “fair number.”
“But we’ve been hounding everyone to send more,” she said.
Beth’s sister Martha and brother Bobby, both of Louisiana, have mailed over 125 pounds of beads alone, beads they have been collecting for years.
Marr said the float will be dedicated to her late father, Elias “Red” Bilski, a World War II veteran.
The Beast of Bourbon will come to a halt at Marr’s house on Green Street for the traditional lobster bake. There, according to tradition, the table will be covered with plastic and newspapers before the food is spread for her guests to enjoy. The meal will feature Cajun favorites such as “sauce piquant,” a traditional dish made with fresh fish and a combination of seasonings known as “The Trinity” — onions, bell peppers and celery sautéed in butter.
Lacking the traditional seafood of choice, crawfish, Marr has settled for New England lobster, but insists that’s the only modification that’s needed.
“The only thing different is what water the seafood comes from,” she said.

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