BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A U.S. soldier born and raised in south Louisiana got a chance to ride along in a Mardi Gras parade for the very first time, just weeks before his deployment to Iraq.
In the midst of the excitement surrounding the Spanish Town parade, there were the usual suspects and familiar faces as thousands looked to catch the thows from passing floats. For one man, the whole experience was a dream come true.
"I've always watched them and just to be a part of being inside of it actually is a great experience," said 1st Lt. Mark St. Roman.
St. Roman indulged in the frenzy surrounding the Spanish Town parade. For the first time in his life, he was able to hop aboard a float and enjoy Mardi Gras from the other side.
As a part of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, St. Roman has been getting ready to head into Iraq for his fourth tour. He was given a four-day break from training in Mississippi. With the help of a few friends, St. Roman landed on the "Strange Brew Crew" float.
"We're indebted to him," said crew organizer Don Militello. "So, it's an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to have him here."
Militello has rolled with the krewe for 7 years. This time around, he said the ride is extra special, not just for St. Roman, but for everyone on board.
"This is the man right here buddy," said one reveler as he hugged the lieutenant.
St. Roman said a lot goes through his mind getting ready to head overseas, but experiencing Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge, with the "Strange Brew Crew," is helpful.
"It's definitely a good break to be away from everything, come back home and spend time with friends and family and have a good time," he said.
It appears that a good time was had by all. The Spanish Town parade never fails to deliver its fair share of characters. About 75 floats rolled through downtown Baton Rouge.
St. Roman is scheduled to leave for Iraq in a couple of weeks. He's headed back to Mississippi on Tuesday. Until then, he hopes to keep his mind off of the hardships he'll face while overseas.