Archive for January, 2012
Mardi Gras Around the World Series
Mardi Gras festivities are open to families, offering the perfect alternative. Celebrating Mardi Gras since 1874, Pensacolians host four parades every year featuring masked characters, fun throws and elaborate floats that sail along the area’s beaches. And, with temperatures typically in the mid 60s, there is plenty of Florida sunshine to go around.
This Mardi Gras season, visitors and locals are invited to attend the newest parade in the Pensacola Bay Area – the Mardi Gras March Off. On Jan. 21, more than 30,000 people are expected to hit the streets of downtown Pensacola for not only an extremely competitive marching band contest, but also to break the Guinness World Record for largest line dance.
This new family-friendly parade, created by Pensacola Mardi Gras Inc., will bring nine high school marching bands to Pensacola to show off their musical talents in the heart of downtown. After the bands march down Palafox Street, they will stop in a designated performance area to perform for professional adjudicators who will score them on their sound, look and crowd appeal for a chance to win more than $10,000 in prizes. Among the marching bands will be 25 of Pensacola’s best-decorated Mardi Gras floats and krewes tossing great throws and having a great time.
Around 3 p.m., the parade will come to a temporary halt as the crowd attempts to break the current world record for largest line dance. The record is currently held by Atlanta, where 17,500 people have participated in one massive line dance.
If you happen to miss the march off, be sure to attend the Mardi Gras Mall Ball at Cordova Mall on Jan. 28. On this night, the mall will be completely transformed into a massive ballroom, as attendees enjoy live music, delicious snacks from local restaurants and a silent auction in each wing. This annual bash is hosted by the Krewe of Les Petits Enfants (the order of the small children) and has generated more than $2 million in proceeds to the kids at Sacred Heart Hospital. This event is for the 21 and older crowd – sorry kids!
So, grab the family and head downtown to be a part of the first-ever Mardi Gras March Off and a record-breaking line dance, or put on your gowns and tuxes, and enjoy a night of festivities, music and treats at the annual Mall Ball.
- Wind Creek 12th Night Mardi Gras Kick Off Celebration. Jan. 6. At 7 p.m., join Pensacola Mardi Gras crews and their kings and queens for a big celebration and locally made king cakes. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Mardi Gras Marching Madness Parade. Jan. 21. Beginning at 2 p.m., enjoy the sounds of marching bands as they parade downtown, stopping at the corner of Garden Street and Palafox Place to perform for judges. Bands will be competing to win more than $10,000 in prizes. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Cordova Mall Ball. Jan. 28. This annual bash hosted by the Krewe of Les Petits Enfants (the order of the small children) benefits the kids at Sacred Heart Hospital. Cordova Mall is transformed into a ballroom at this event open to the public. Tickets are $50. (850) 416-4660, www.sacred-heart.org/mallball
- Mardi Gras Boat Parade Flotilla. Feb. 4. Join the Pirates of Lost Treasure at 10:30 a.m. on Perdido Key as the Mardi Gras Flotilla makes its way from Hub Stacey to the Perdido Key Oyster Bar and back to the Flora-Bama for live music, a best-decorated boat contest and happening after-party. Free admission. (850) 492-4660, www.visitperdido.com
- Mardi Gras Kid and Kritter Krawl. Feb. 11. Bring your children and favorite four-legged friends out to Pensacola Beach for a lively walking parade. Free Admission. (850) 932-1500, www.pensacolabeachchamber.com
- Snowbird’s Mardi Gras Lunch. Feb. 15. Snowbirds are invited to enjoy a breakfast of coffee and beinets or a lunch of red beans and rice at Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola. Registration is required. Free admission. (850) 434-1234, www.visitpensacola.com/snowbirds
- Mardi Gras Downtown Illuminated Parade. Feb. 17. Starting at 8 p.m., admire the gorgeous lighted floats as they make their way down Palafox Place and through historic downtown Pensacola. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Pensacola Downtown Grand Parade. Feb. 18. With most of the area’s krewes participating, you won’t want to miss the largest, and most popular, parade in downtown Pensacola beginning at 2 p.m. For even more fun, follow the masked characters down to Seville Quarter for a festive after-party. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Pensacola Beach Mardi Gras Parade. Feb. 19. Starting at 2 p.m., line the streets, dip your toes in the sand and listen to the waves crash on the beach behind you as this parade cruises along Via De Luna Drive on Pensacola Beach. Free admission. (850) 438-1500, www.pensacolabeachchamber.com
- Fat Tuesday Priscus Procession. Feb. 21. Revelers of all ages enjoy the last parade of the Mardi Gras season before lent begins. Located on Palafox and Government Streets. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
Reuters Thursday published an article saying New Orleans’ rising murder rate has the city on the defensive just as it is gearing up for Mardi Gras and the height of the tourist season. The article repeats the statistics on murder and mayhem for 2011 and January which are very familiar to those of us who live here.
Not sure that Reuters really understands what Mardi Gras in New Orleans means to America and the World. It’s the ultimate free public party in America. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the one stop party shop of the year,and it will be right back next year.
Generally the event itself is rather safe, though we’ve had a few parade route shootings over time and a few French Quarter gun pulls as well. However more than a million folks attend the entire Metro event over the season, and 99.999% report having a dream of a time.
So any rooms not booked due to an increasing murder rate will be booked by the next enthusiast. If they decide not to come, the next enthusiast will be happy to have that room.
The city’s homicide statistics are rising as the national rates are declining, and city officials don’t really know why. It notes Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to adopt Chicago’s CeaseFire program as pilot program in February. Noting that the perpetrators and victims are generally young black men, the article quotes Tulane University criminologist Peter Scharf as saying the city has failed to come to grips with the drug war it has on its hands. “You have to deal with the vibrant dope economy and culture around these guys,” Scharf said. ” CeaseFire is fine, but that doesn’t replace the need for a plan.
I think the world of Muses for many reasons, their incredible throws, floats, charity events like this one, etc. All women clinches the deal, I think the world of Muses!
Below is from the Muses website, the auction ended yesterday.
Are you ready to roll with the Muses?
Did you hear the membership was closed and the wait-list was over 500 women long?
Attention wannabe Goddesses! This is a once in a lifetime chance for a woman to ride in the 2012 Krewe of Muses Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans on Thursday, February 16, 2012. Join riding Muses for the annual and much anticipated parade… and jump ahead of the 500+ Muses on the wait list!
Ask anyone who has rolled with the Muses…It’s absolutely Inspirational!
The minimum bid for the ride is $1,000 and the rider must be a woman over the age of 18. Prize includes priceless ride plus costume, mask, entry to the riding-members-only pre-party beginning at 2:00 p.m. and the (always amazing and much anticipated) post-parade aMUSEment Party, plus a small package of throws (not enough for the ride.) Throws, which cost approximately $1,000, must be purchased separately and are available through the Krewe of Muses.
PARADE FOR A CAUSE! The recipient of the proceeds is the Young Survival Coalition, which is the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful.
For tax purposes, we value this item at $770. Any excess amount paid may be tax-deductible. However, you should consult your tax professional.
Please contact the Krewe of Muses at email@example.com or (504) 269-1422 with any questions. The winner should contact Muses as soon as possible after the auction closes to obtain important information regarding the ride.
Make your Mardi Gras Muses fantasies come true!!!
The auction ends at 6 p.m. CST on 1/15/2012.
UPDATE 9:15 p.m.
A Travis County jury has sentenced Martha Hernandez to 60 years in prison for murder in the killing of Christy Lynn Espinosa, whose body was found burning in eastern Travis County after she disappeared from a Sixth Street Mardi Gras celebration.
Hernandez, 27, will be eligible for parole after serving half that time.
Hernandez also received a 20-year term for tampering with evidence. The sentence will run concurrently.
Her husband, Kenneth Hernandez, faces murder and tampering with evidence charges in the case and is scheduled to be tried next month.
UPDATE 6:50 p.m.
Jurors in Martha Hernandez’s murder trial began deliberating a sentence at about 6:45 p.m. today after prosecutors implored them to issue a harsh punishment for the suffocation and burning of 21-year-old Christy Lynn Espinosa in 2009.
“She was an innocent victim that was out having a good time on Mardi Gras,” said prosecutor Amy Meredith. “She did nothing wrong to this defendant. She did nothing wrong to Kenneth Hernandez. She did not deserve what happened to her.
“If this is not a life case I don’t know what is,.” Meredith said.
Hernandez, who was convicted of murder and tampering with evidence earlier in the day, faces 5 years to life in prison.
Defense lawyer Alexander Calhoun asked the jury to consider that Hernandez “is a human being just like the rest of us.”
He noted that Hernandez has two young children who love her. Calhoun did not ask for a specific sentence.
“Only the 12 of you can figure out what the appropriate sentence is,” he said. “I am going to ask you to give her a fair sentence.”
UPDATE 6:02 p.m.
Christy Lynne Espinosa’s parents told a Travis County jury today that their daughter was a compassionate and giving person with a comedic streak whose loss has fractured their family.
“When you have a child, that’s the happiest day of your life and when you lose a child, it’s unbearable,” said her mother, Dianna Espinosa. “If you were having a bad day you no longer were going to have a bad day because of Christy. She wanted to make sure she was going to make your day brighter.”
The testimony of Dianna and Antonio Espinosa came during the sentencing trial for Martha Hernandez, who earlier in the day was convicted of murder and tampering with evidence in Espinosa’s death.
Espinosa, 21, was suffocated after she disappeared from a Mardi Gras celebration on Sixth Street in February 2009. Her body was found burning off rural Imperial Drive in eastern Travis County hours later.
Prosecutors said she was killed by Hernandez, 27, and her husband, Kenneth Hernandez, who will be tried on the same charges next month.
Hernandez could receive life in prison. The jury is expected to begin deliberating a sentence this evening.
The only witness called by Hernandez’s lawyers during the sentencing phase was Francisco Medina, Hernandez’s older brother. Medina, 31, said his sister was the youngest of four children born to their parents in Sabinas, Coahuila, which is about an hour’s drive south of the border at Eagle Pass.
He said their father died when Hernandez was about three years old and he and his sister came to the United States to live with their mother when Hernandez was about 5 years old. Medina said her mother remarried and their stepfather, who worked at a mattress factory and later as a security guard, helped raise them.
Medina said his sister eventually became an American citizen.
Medina said when his sister was about 15 she was raped by a cousin, who fled for Mexico. When she was in ninth grade, he said, Hernandez got pregnant and dropped out of Stephen F. Austin High School.
Medina said the family of four formed a band playing conjunto music and they traveled around Central Texas playing. Medina said his sister, who played drums and bass, quit that band after she married Kenneth Hernandez about five years ago.
On cross-examination, prosecutor John Hunt asked about the rape accusation, noting that the man accused was 18 at the time. Hunt asked Medina whether his sister “stated to the police that they just kind of started liking each other and that she didn’t use the term rape?”
Medina said he did not know.
Update 3:33 p.m. A jury has found Martha Hernandez guilty of murder and tampering with evidence in the February 2009 killing of 21-year-old Christy Lynne Espinosa, whose body was found burning in eastern Travis County after she disappeared from a Sixth Street Mardi Gras celebration.
Friends and family of Espinosa, a Crockett High School graduate who worked as a waitress at Applebee’s, wept after the decision was announced.
Hernandez faces up to life in prison at the sentencing phase of the trial, which will begin this afternoon.
Earlier: Prosecutors told a Travis County jury today that the truth will never be known about why 21-year-old Christy Lynne Espinosa was killed and set on fire following a 2009 Mardi Gras celebration on Sixth Street.
“We don’t have to prove why someone did what they did,” Assistant District Attorney Amy Meredith said during closing arguments of Martha Hernandez’s murder and tampering with evidence trial today.
What is clear, Meredith said, is that Hernandez is guilty of murder.
“She is absolutely guilty.”
The jury in state Distict Judge Bob Perkins’ court began deliberating at about noon.
In her argument, Meredith cited the evidence against Hernandez:
- Somebody who left with Espinosa the last time she was seen on Sixth Street, who could not be identified, gave Martha Hernandez’s old phone number to Espinosa’s boyfriend.
- Hernandez’s military dependant identification was found near Espinosa’s body
- Hernandez could not be excluded as a contributor to DNA found on Mardi Gras beads found near Espinosa’s body
- Hernandez told police that she put her hand over Espinosa’s mouth attempting to suffocate her while her husband drove them around that night. Hernandez said her husband ultimately killed Espinosa.
- Hernandez said she gave her husband, Kenneth Hernandez, a lighter that he used to set Espinosa’s body on fire.
Earlier, prosecutor John Hunt told the jury that under the Texas law of parties, the jury may find Hernandez guilty of either crime if they believe she committed the crimes herself or if she aided or attempted to aid Kenneth Hernandez in the crimes.
If convicted, Hernandez, 27, faces up to life in prison. Her husband, Kenneth Hernandez, 35, is also charged with murder and tampering with evidence and is scheduled for trial next month.
Defense lawyer Alex Calhoun told jurors that if they do not know what happened on Feb. 25, the morning Espinosa’s burning body was found on rural Imperial Drive, then they should acquit Hernandez.
“We don’t know can be reasonable doubt,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun argued that Martha Hernandez was under the control of her husband, who he described as an abusive and manipulative man.
“Control has been a theme that’s run through this case,” he said, describing Kenneth Hernandez as bigger than his wife, athletic and independent.
He also suggested that Martha Hernandez did not plan to kill anyone that night.
“If you are going to go out and you are going to plan to kill someone are you going to give that person’s boyfriend a number that would trace back to you,” he said.
Martha Hernandez told a Travis County sheriff’s detective that the couple ended up leaving the Sixth Street area with Espinosa after meeting her there and returning to their car so Kenneth Hernandez could smoke a cigarette.
They drove around drinking, and Martha Hernandez said at one point her husband said he wanted to have three-way sex with Christy, something Martha Hernandez said she refused to do. After that Kenneth Hernandez began to put his hand up Espinosa’s shirt and told his wife that he had given Espinosa’s Xanax earlier in the evening.
Soon Kenneth Hernandez became concerned that he would get in trouble, Martha Hernandez said, and at one point her husband told her to put her hand over Espinosa’s mouth and nose and stop her breathing. Martha Hernandez said that after she couldn’t follow through on the killing her husband put his hand over Espinosa’s mouth.
Calhoun said Martha Hernandez lacked intent to kill Espinosa, an element required for conviction. He said she was in a daze because of her husband’s abusive behavior and when she realized what she was doing she stopped and took her hands off of Espinosa’s face.
Meredith said the case is not about any domestic problems that may have occurred between Martha and Kenneth Hernandez.
“This is about this defendant and what she did to this victim,” Meredith said. “She committed a heinous, heinous crime … and she needs to be held accountable.”
LSU didn’t show up for their game, a real shame, but that’s the way the football bounces. We are left with our record setting New Orleans Saints, now heading to San Francisco, California to face the 49ers for round 2 Saturday, January 14 @ 3:30 pm CST. Hopefully, both teams will show up and our Saints will win!!
King cake season is upon us and you can buy a decent king cake around the metro area at every grocery, bakery, and most pharmacies and convenience stores. There are plenty of personal and cupcake size king cakes available.
I’ve been in touch with my Krewe du Vieux, on krewe matters most important, since we roll February 4th. I sure love being part of a bigger part of Mardi Gras than just my extremely popular Mardi Gras Blog.
It’s still possible to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Mardi Gras parades. It’s not easy, but it can be done. When parading down St. Charles avenue, convention rules, since the New Orleans City Council creates the rules for major parades. If you want to parade and do your own thing, that’s more than possible though it’s a ton of work; hence Krewe du Vieux, ‘tit REX, Krewe of St. Anne, Krewe of Chewbaccus, etc. Most of these are in the Bywater, 7th ward, or Marigny. Most roll on Fat Tuesday, and most are really fabulous. Kolossos is headquartered in and will march in Marigny and Bywater.
The spanking new Krewe of Kolossos is seeking to “create a new breed of parade,” utilizing tradition while drawing on ideas of environmental sustainability and reuse, art director Steven Donnelly said.
The idea for the krewe came from a partnership with grand marshal-elect Karina Nathan, the artist a.k.a. Katrina Brees. Donnelly’s drum cart creation, a mobile performance art drum show and Nathan’s Bearded Oysters, an all female marching and social group. Both share a love of a good party, and Kolossos was formed with this in mind.
The krewe has around 200 members. While the membership is open, the majority of members are artists, including sculptors, costumiers, performance artists, etc.
‘Tit Rex changed its name to ‘Tit Rəx, inverting their ‘e’. What is ‘tit Rəx? The World’s First Mardi Gras Microkrewe, Social Aid & Pleasure Club…. and Live Miniature Parade. ‘Tit stands for Petite Rəx, since they have all miniature floats and throws.
The reason for the name change was continued interference from the mighty King of Carnival, the School of Design’s Krewe of REX. Somehow, someway, in REX’s infinite wisdom, they consider ‘tit Rəx to be an infringement of their REX copyright. I think they are mixing apples and oranges. REX offered them a ten year deal for $5.00/year, but ‘tit Rəx rejected the deal because of potentially restrictive clauses about the size and nature of the ‘tit Rəx parade.
They march on Poland Avenue at 5:30 pm on February 11. 2012 theme- Napoleon Avenue Complex. Rex parades on Fat Tuesday, February 21 at 10 am on the uptown route, starting from their dens on Claiborne Avenue at 2nd Street.