Sunday, March 13, 2011

NOLA Mardi Gras

We wanted to go to New Orleans to get a taste of Mardi Gras there so on Monday we met up with Valerie and Richard in Baton Rouge and rode with them into the Crescent City. They have been there many times so they knew exactly where to park so we could see two parades and get out of town before all the traffic. The parade ended at 8PM and we were in bed in Abbeville before midnight. The parades are sponsored by krewes, social clubs that are all about celebrating during Carnival. Each krewe has a different theme and the floats in that parade reflect that theme.

Nanc, Jim, Val and Richard getting ready for the parade. They are experts at claiming a spot to the point that Valerie bought a $2.00 throw away shower curtain to put on the ground to mark our territory.
This year there were 55 parades and 37 balls in New Orleans beginning on February 19 and ending on Fat Tuesday, March 8, so these people know how to parade and party. Top left are ladders with seats and safety belts so kids can get above the crowd to get beads. Top right is a permanent sign about not parking on the street during parades and middle is a car that was decorated because it was not off the street. Bottom right is a float coming out of the warehouse before the parade. Left is a float rider with a dozen bags of beads he will be throwing to the crowd. Each bag weighs 25 pounds so you can figure there must be over a million pounds of beads thrown during the parades that take place in New Orleans during the two and a half weeks of Carnival season.

When in New Orleans do what the New Orleanians do.

Actually I was just putting on my sweatshirt and wanted my Mardi Gras tee on the outside. This was the most vulgar act of near nudity we saw in the neighborhood where we watched the parade. It really is a family affair. The most violent thing that we saw happen was Nanc getting hit in the nose with flying beads. Since the beads here were bigger than the other parades we have seen, she does have a black and blue mark across the bridge of her nose.

We wondered where all the beads come from and discovered they grow them on trees along the parade routes.

The first parade was the Krewe of Proteus which is the second oldest krewe in the city. Proteus was known in Greek mythology as the shepard of the sea so the floats and trinkets they threw had that theme. Nanc got a neat stuffed seahorse that is one of the prized items they throw.

Floats from the Proteus parade.

More Proteus floats.

The second parade was the Krewe of Orpheus, the musical son of Zeus and the Greek muse Calliope. This krewe was started in 1993 with a musical theme and Harry Connick Jr. was one of the founders. The theme of this year's parade was Visions of Other Worlds and, as you can see above, some of the costumes (bottom) were out of this world. Top are the Shriner motorcycles with Nanc and Val who begged a seat. Bottom left are Nanc and Val with two of the Muff-A-Lottas, a dancing group that marched.

This parade was after dark so the pictures are not very good but it was great in person. There were many bands in this parade and the floats were the most beautiful and elaborate we have seen. Bottom center is a flambeau, a person that carries a flaming torch or flare. They are part of the tradition going back to when there was no electricity to light the way. This flambeau has money pinned to his shirt as a reminder that you should give him a donation for the group. We caught some very nice trinkets including a much valued Orpheus metal doubloon. We really had a great time at this parade as it had the best floats, beads and other trinkets of any of the parades we have seen.


Valerie said...

Wow! Great post, fantastic photos! I felt like I was there with you. Oh wait, I was! Such a fun time! Let's do it again and again!

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Well spoen, Great pics and description!