Not a big fan of the NOLA Mardi Gras blog because of a participant named Bacchusrider, a big bully and worse, but this story was just too cool to pass up. This from, and was written by Anthony Veiga with Taylor Clarke from the Post-Standard.

Parade made all the work worthwhile

Contributing writer

Last summer my high school’s jazz band set out to raise money to help pay for a trip to New Orleans. We knew that selling candy bars and baked goods wouldn’t get us enough money, so we performed a dozen gigs. Had it been any other trip, all this fundraising might not have been sustained, especially over the summer, but we were excited and determined to perform in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

When we left, just days after the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl and at the start of the Mardi Gras festivities, we knew our dedication over the summer was going to be worth it.

After a 24-hour bus trip, we arrived in our host city, Chalmette, and were shown to a mansion where we watched our first Mardi Gras parade. The shower of beads that were thrown at us (none earned in the well-known manner) were all very different in color and size.

Our first morning there, we awoke to a performance by the Chalmette High School jazz and concert ensembles. They clearly had the “Southern” jazz style down, and when they played “When the Saints Go Marching In” chills went down our spines. We followed with our own “Northern” version of the song. We played as in tune and loud as possible, convincing some Chalmette students that the northern “funk” way was the only way to play that song.

We spent the rest of the day sightseeing on a jazz cruise and resting up for our big event the following day: playing in a 13.5-mile-long Mardi Gras parade with the Chalmette musicians.

Before the parade, we learned a Southern-style dance with the other students, which got us even more excited for the parade. At the launch site we assumed our position at the front of the entire parade: students from Mexico Academy were going to lead the Krewe of Thoth. We played our hearts out. It was tiring, but we continued on and 13.5 miles later, when the end came, everyone thought it was worth it. In fact, some wanted to keep going.

When we arrived, we weren’t sure we could make it through such a long parade. We left New Orleans only wanting to return and be a part of Mardi Gras all over again.