BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Doug Cossman's day job involves paperwork and crunching numbers for Brewbacher's restaurant. However, even in this cubby of an office Cossman's true passion is never far from thought. Perched above his computer, is a bright pink flamingo.
"This is not your father's Mardi Gras,” said Cossman. “Any adjective you want to use is probably apt for Spanish Town."
For more than three decades, the Spanish Town parade has rolled through the streets of Baton Rouge as one of the most outrageous events in town. Themes poke fun at politicians and celebrities. Parade judges are openly bribed. As a parade board member, Cossman is responsible for planning the annual ball where anything goes.
Kings and Queens and Grand Marshals are an eclectic bunch, picked as much for their notoriety as their contributions to the community. Every year, the Spanish Town Royalty is sure to leave a lasting impression. That's especially true this year.
"If you never had a chance to meet Shelby Holmes, it is your loss. Any adjective you can use to describe a good man, you can use to describe Shelby," said Cossman.
2015 Spanish Town King Shelby Holmes died in October of 2013. He was gunned down while walking home. His murderer is still loose. But, Shelby- an avid sports fan and Spanish Town regular- still lives on, both in the hearts of those who knew him and quite literally inside Cossman.
“I said when all of this went down that I wanted to make sure the world never forgot Shelby Holmes," said Cossman.
Cossman was diagnosed with kidney disease a few years ago. It wasn't long before a transplant became necessary. After Shelby's murder, his mother decided to donate his organs. That's when she learned that Shelby's long time friend needed a kidney. Turns out Cossman and Shelby were a match.
"We drove to New Orleans with a picture of Shelby from Spanish Town Mardi Gras in the car with us. Kept it in the room so that when the doctors and nurses and everyone came in we were able to go, that's where the kidney is coming from," said Cossman.
A year later, Cossman is healthy, and says he's incredibly proud to always carry Shelby with him to all the events they both loved, including the Spanish Town Parade.
When the parade rolls on Valentine's Day, the King's float will have a picture of Shelby along with the logos for the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency and Crime Stoppers. The throws will include a koozies asking parade goers to become donors.
Cossman says with any luck, the city's craziest parade may save a life, and even shed some light on Shelby's murder.
For more information on the Spanish Town parade, click here.
For more information on LOPA and organ donation, click
Anyone with information on Shelby's murder can anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 225-344-STOP.