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10 DAYS BEFORE MARDI GRAS

February 12, 2012 by Barry & Monique Zander · 40 Comments  
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By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Day 1 – Our group’s introduction to Mardi Gras was beautiful, a bit chilly, but when the sun smiled on us, it couldn’t have been much better.

King - 0525

Before I continue, I want to clarify something.  Participating in the revelry in New Orleans is not dangerous.  Some places do get crowded, but most places are family-friendly.

On Mardi Gras Tuesday (February 21, this year) and the weekend preceding it, the city swells to a million people.  It’s fun, and considering the number of people over-indulging, it’s unusually safe and fun.

Crime?  Every city faces it, but none of them have the high level of crowd control and crime deterrence that New Orleans has and incidents are relatively rare.  THAT’S WHY THE MILLION PEOPLE RETURN.

Catching Beads - 0571We are part of a rally.  That’s like a caravan, but we all put down levelers in one park (a state park this time) and are bused to events – and there are dozens on the schedule.

Today, Sunday, we traveled across the Mississippi River from the park to “the Avenue,” which all N’Awlins natives know as St. Charles Avenue, one of thestately, mansion-lined residential streets in America.  We put down our folding chairs, got ready for the King of Carrollton’s float and were not disappointed when it rolled toward us a few minutes later.

Mardi Gras parades are not like any others you’ve experienced.  There is the splendor, of course. Masses of folks line the streets … but that’s where the first difference shows up.  Where else do you see children in homemade seats atop folding ladders?

Children Watch from High Above the Crowd and Catch the Most Throws

Children Watch from High Above the Crowd and Catch the Most Throws

Where else do you see so many parade-watchers wearing silly hats?

Beaded Lady - 0553When the parade arrives, that’s when all hell breaks loose.  At no other parade venue do sensible, sedentary, normal-type citizens jump out of their chairs to vie for the cherished beads and other items thrown from the floats.

For today’s parades, we boarded buses mid-morning to position ourselves early with ample turf from which to compete with cute 5-year-old towheaded children and grey-haired great-grandmothers for Mardi Gras beads, cups and stuffed toys, etc.  Don’t be accusatory! It’s part of the ritual accepted by even the weakest of the species along the route.

Each parade is manned by a “krewe,” the local name for carnival organizations, as in the first parade we saw today, the “Krewe of Carrollton.”  Krewe members are mostly masked and wearing costumes that carry out the theme of the float, which helps carry out the theme of the entire parade.

Tossing Beads - 0543All that is very interesting, of course, but when you’re trying to catch beads, it’s hard pay attention to any of it.   In the second of Sunday’s parades, the Krewe of King Arthur, floats depicted “King Arthur Celebrates the Louisiana Statehood Bicentennial.”  The theme is lost to many concentrating on the next float approaching their viewing spot.  The krewes take a lot of time and go to a lot of expense to explore the theme.  On the ground, however, probably only a small percentage even realizes there was a theme.

Members of our rally “krewe” got their first glimpse today of what Mardi Gras is all about.

I’ll mention here that I spent the first two-thirds of my life in New Orleans.  Whenasked where I’m from, it’s always New Orleans.  The Crescent City has a culture all its own, and I am still part of that culture.

Monique, on the other hand, is experiencing her first Mardi Gras.  She liked it, but I think the most memorable part was eating beignets (famous New Orleans powdered-sugar-coated donuts) at New Orleans Coffee & Beignets a few feet from our viewing area.  It was when we climbed back into our travel trailer at about 4 p.m. and she spread ourBand - 0561 “loot” out on the floor that she was struck by the glittering fun and excitement of Mardi Gras.  And that’s just the beginning.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.Riders - 0548

ur Loot from the Irst Parades -- If I hadn't been so busy playing photographer, we might have caught as many as our fellow Rally friends.

Our Loot from the First Parades -- If I hadn't been so busy playing photographer, we might have caught as many as our fellow Rally friends.

Dragons - 0566

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

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40 Responses to “10 DAYS BEFORE MARDI GRAS”

  1. butterbean carpenter on February 13th, 2012 5:47 pm

    Howdy Monique & Barry,

    Thank you, for the BEST Mardi Gras I’ve ever witnessed!!! NO pushing, NO getting stepped on, NO LOUD SCREAMS in your ears!! Hey, it was a pleasure!!! Monique,
    those were really Bimbo little powdered doughnuts!!!! hee hee Sure am glad y’all took us with you!!! J&b

  2. Ron Butler on February 13th, 2012 5:53 pm

    Great comments about the safety in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I attended the last 5 afternoon and night parades and never felt safer! This was the year after Katrina, so the NOPD was short handed, but law enforcement agencies from throughout the state sent officiers in to help. NOPD has large crowd control techniques down pat, I think they wrote the book on it. Elevated observation posts every block at intersections and 3-4 officers every 1/2 block. The locals said that you were safer there as all the crooks were out in the suburbs creating havoic!! Off course, I didn’t flash money around, not that I had/have any!

    Don’t let the concern of safety stop you from a great time!

  3. Joe & Kath on February 13th, 2012 8:02 pm

    We’re leaving tomorrow morning for our FIRST visit to Mardi Gras. It’s been on our bucket list for a couple of years and now it’s happening. Can’t wait to get there.

  4. Teri Blaschke on February 13th, 2012 8:34 pm

    Crowds are not my thing so your shared experience is the best of both worlds for me. Wish I had some of those beads. hehe

  5. Linda S. on February 13th, 2012 8:58 pm

    Where else can you see all that silliness? In Tampa, FL the last Saturday of each January during the Gasparilla Pirate Fest. Yes, Mardi GRAS has been going on much longer and oh, so much fun. But if you’re in the Tampa area next year on January 26th, “come party with us. If ye don’t join in the festivities, it may be the plank for you! Arrrrrgh!”

  6. Liz Bard on February 13th, 2012 11:52 pm

    Last weekend we were leaving Shreveport/Bossier City and the Clyde Fant Parkway was lined with people with tents, RV’s, trailers, pick up trucks, etc. as they lined the parkway and the street in front of the base and across the river. It looked like a giant tail gate party and everyone seemed to be bar b queing something.

    We didn’t stick around, but I know there are plans for another parade, etc. this weekend. If you want the beads, etc. and don’t want to be in the crowds (my husband doesn’t like crowds) you can buy them at a lot of the stores in Shreveport/Bossier City like Walmart, Dollar Store, Target, Kroger and don’t forget the King Cakes.

    There will be Mardi Gras parties until Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. As they say in Louisiana – Let the good times roll!

  7. Curtis McRee on February 14th, 2012 9:55 am

    I was raised in Mobile,AL. Not far from N.O. We also have a large Mardi Gras
    time here also.Our Motto is Let the good times Roll.Thank you for showing us what Butterbean and wife looks like in your Sunday eletter. He is quiet a charater.

  8. Marty Underwood on February 14th, 2012 11:03 am

    We love NO and are excited to read about Caravan. We go to NO frequently and are always looking for a place to park our 36 foot motor home. What is the name of the state park? Have a BALL!

  9. cheap trailers melbourne on February 21st, 2012 1:22 am

    i like this fest and culture. people have so craze about this fest.

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