I was out on Jackson Avenue by 7:30 am on Fat Tuesday. I walked from Claiborne where I was dropped off to Dryades, where I was supposed to meet a friend who didn’t make it because he drank too much on Lundi Gras. Zulu was on time around 8 am and reached me by 8:30 on Jackson and Daneel. I had 5 coconuts by 9 am, and was walking to Rex at Harmony and St. Charles at 9:30. My good friend Billy Bonsack lives a block off St. Charles on Prytania and Harmony. I see a lot of parades during the season since Billy’s house is a block off the St. Charles route. Super convenient and makes parading a lot more comfortable.
It was a really warm Carnival season, and Mardi Gras day didn’t fail us. It was 70+ degrees when I hit the streets yesterday, and it only got warmer. I was dressed in a warm weather version of my purple, green and gold outfit, but I was still warm throughout the day.
Even though my basic Fat Tuesday routine doesn’t change much, there are always new wrinkles and fresh sights and sounds that can’t be missed. I started the season marching in the Krewe du Vieux’s Krewe of Underwear, marching through the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. This year’s march was especially fun. I recommend getting involved in parading for Carnival if you never have. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.
I wear a purple, green and gold outfit, and Zulu always responds to people who have nice costumes. I don’t get any coconuts from the first few floats but after a while, I do real well. They respond very well to my purple, green and gold costume, and especially my very fancy headdress, worn for the first time this year. I had to expand or my girlfriend Sue did, the headdress, which originally was a little too small. Here I am on Jackson Avenue waiting for Zulu. Zulu is one of the great parades. It’s very unique from beginning to end, and features a most unusual throw, the Zulu Coconut.
I’ll be adding photos of my 5 coconuts later today when I pick them up from my friend’s house on Prytania. I’ve got several bags of throws, garnered over the entire parade season.
Beautifully Costumed Mardi Gras Indian
As I was walking from Zulu to Rex, I passed this gang of unbelievably colorful and decorative Mardi Gras Indians. The beauty and majesty of their single colored feather outfits is a marvel to behold. My good friend June Victory of June Victory and the Bayou Renegades helped me find them. They remain among the most beautiful sights on a Mardi Gras Day.
Mardi Gras Indians on a Mardi Gras Day
After REX I started heading home with another friend, Slogan. He walked with me through Central City and saw the Indian gang. He was very impressed, as I was. We finally split up after a couple of miles of walking, and eventually Sue picked me up at Galvez and Canal after hitting a lot of traffic on Broad due to the Zulu floats heading to the Zulu buildings on Broad.
For the last few years, my Fat Tuesday routine has changed a bit. Now I go out to eat in the late afternoon. Last year it was Mandina’s. This year is was pizza and beer (for girlfriend Sue) at Theo’s on North Carrollton.
I take a fair amount of photos for my blog, almost 100% are with my smart phone. These mostly were taken the last weekend of the 2017 Carnival season.
The Knights of Babylon ran last night, a beautiful evening for Carnival 2017 parading. Babylon was originally called the Jesters Club. St. Charles was packed with parade goers, of all shapes, ages and sizes. We had moved our location from Harmony Street to St. Andrews St, Neutral ground side. Babylon’s theme for 2017 was The Lure and Legends of Gold. Babylon started in 1939, so they are among the top 5 oldest New Orleans krewes. That’s tradition. As they were rolling down St. Charles, I could tell they weren’t all old men, but a cross section of ages. Their floats are of traditional size.
Babylon had a bunch of light up throws, including a light up streetcar light up medallion, a purple bearded man light up bead, and a plastic fake wrist band that states on the plastic dial, Carnival Begins When Babylon Rolls.
Light Up Babylon Throws
All three parades occupy different niches in the Mardi Gras Orleans Parish Parade hierarchy. Babylon is from the old guard. Chaos is a combination of the new and the old, a unique niche, and Muses are the founders of the women’s super krewe niche that now has other players including NYX.
While Babylon is an old fashioned parade, Chaos is even more old fashioned. They ride on wooden wagon wheels, like REX and Proteus (see photo). That’s because Chaos membership is comprised of former Knights of Momus members. Comus and Momus stopped parading decades ago when the political climate for closed all white men’s clubs went south. The Chaos float den is the former Momus den. They threw float specific cards, doubloons, light up swords and other mostly traditional throws.
Muses is one of Carnival’s largest parades with well over 1,000 krewe members. They are named after the Muses in mythology. They have changed Mardi Gras for the good with their too many to mention sexy, ribalt dancing groups; they broke a Carnival glass ceiling as the first true all women Super Krewe; and their hand decorated Muses shoes have quickly become a key Mardi Gras signature throw.
Muses were founded in 2000 by Staci Rosenberg, and first paraded during Mardi Gras in 2001. Every year, Muses produces an awesome variety of logoed throws. The krewe is very limited in what else they can purchase outside the krewe and without the Muses logo.
Thongs Throw! Weird Throw!
Parades start again tomorrow with Druids and NYX. NYX has worked hard to establish their own icon throw, similar to the Krewe of Muses Shoe and the Zulu Coconut. The NYX Purse is a hand decorated purse or small hand bag. Their krewe has grown substantially the last few year as their parade presence has grown. Looking forward to their parade tomorrow night.
Working on my purple, green and gold costume for Fat Tuesday. Always celebrate Fat Tuesday in the official colors of Mardi Gras. Though Blaine Kern Artists remain the largest of the float builders, Royal Artists is my personal favorite. I catch Zulu on Jackson Avenue, then head to Harmony and St. Charles for REX. After REX I follow the truck parades downtown, and meet my girlfriend Sue Repasky. We ate at Mandina’s later that afternoon, and it was very good.
I’ve been in New Orleans for a long time, now, and I’m excited about Mardi Gras like I was brand new to it. There is something about the combination of bands, floats, crowds, ambiance, friends, family, and tradition that makes me very happy.Happy Mardi Gras!
The men and women in blue, our own New Orleans Police Department, aka NOPD, are the coolest cats on the parade route. Virtually nothing nonplusses them. They have seen it all on St. Charles Avenue during Carnival literally. They almost always have time to answer a question from a tourist or local. Most often they have smiles on their faces, except when something goes awry on the parade route and they must intercede.
Police in New Orleans are in what’s called Mardi Gras mode. No days off until the day after Fat Tuesday, and all shifts are 12 hours. That is a stressful combination. Other police forces in the metro area are coming to help out. State police, Probation and Parole, Kenner, St John the Baptist, St Bernard and Jefferson parish police on the way. That’s a lot of police.
I like to wish the police a good day or night on the parade route, as I have a high regard as a general rule for NOPD during Carnival. They are working while we are playing, and on really beautiful days like today, that’s not so easy. One thing about New Orleanians during Mardi Gras, they like to drink a beer or a cocktail while socializing out on the parade route.
Other situations can develop quickly during Carnival- float breakdowns are a possibility. People joining the parade ad hoc for the sheer fun of it (that’s not allowed). People getting run over by a float or kicked by a horse (these are fairly rare occurrences).
There is a Mardi Gras fugitive roundup going on, just this weekend 34 people were arrested for 54 offenses.
Those little black squares on their chests in both pictures are the cameras that record everything that goes down. That’s a good thing. Of course, the cameras can be turned off, and don’t always work.