The crowd was thick along Iberia Street in front of the Iberia Parish Courthouse Thursday afternoon.
“What’s the protest about?” an attorney asked as he walked across the street.
For once at least the crowd was not there for a protest. It was a celebration.
Two longtime assistant clerks of court, Janell Derouen and Kim Decoux, were taking their victory lap “Thelma and Louise” style, perched on the back of an open-top convertible with a sheriff’s escort as they began their respective retirements.
Derouen served in the Clerk of Court’s Office for more than 20 years. Most recently she worked to design and implement the wedding chapel in the courthouse.
“Before she worked in the clerk’s office, she used to be a decorator for the casino,” Clerk of Curt David Ditch said. “She designed and built that chapel by hand, from scratch, starting with just some boards.”
Derouen was also the office’s planner, handling all of the birthdays and special events.
Decoux served for 41 years, serving under three separate clerks during her career, which is not an easy task.
“She handles all of the elections, all of the jury commissions which select the juries for the court, and the mortgage certificates,” Ditch said. “She will still be working with us three days a week as a retiree to do the elections and the jury commissions.”
Friends, family and co-workers lined both sides of Iberia Street as the mini procession passed by, Decoux and Derouen waving, smiling and calling out as they passed. Behind the wheel of the IPSO escort, incoming Sheriff Tommy Romero was all smiles as he provided the escort for the farewell celebration.
“I was talking to him and just asked,” Ditch said. “He was happy to do it.”
One pass was not enough, however. The parade turned around and traced its route a second time before stopping in the courthouse parking lot, where a frenzy of photos and greetings took place before the entourage moved inside the Clerk of Court’s Office for a reception.
“I think it was an appropriate send off,” Ditch said. “It’s going to be a big loss.”