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Marching Through New Orleans Mardi Gras 2011

mardi gras flambeau

Now that Lent is almost over I thought I’d go back to that day that started it all, Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras was good this year and by all reports it seems that we had a record breaking crowd. The hotels were filled to capacity and the weather held off for the most part and gave us a few showers and some sprinkles and put two of the ridiculously long parades back to back on Sunday that I chose not to brave the crowds to see.

I saw more parades then usual and actually was in one of the male dancing groups in a parade on Mardi Gras weekend. It was a blast moving through the crowds seeing all of the smiling faces and people putting out their hands for you to touch them. It was akin to being a rock star. The noise and the cheering were deafening and my ears were ringing when I finally got back to the quiet of my home.

Monday night I always make it a point to see Proteus which I think is Carnival’s most beautiful parade. These are old style floats still carried on ancient cotton wagons as they’ve done ever since the start of this parade 150 years ago. It’s classy and beautiful and reflects the best attitudes and customs of a bygone era brought forward into modern times.

We decided to go down to the Quarter on Mardi Gras morning and got there about quarter to eight, found a parking place right in front of Tujaque’s and made our way into Jackson Square and then on to Bourbon Street.

There were some really cute creative costumes and aside from seeing a guy passed out on the sidewalk propped up against some steps and people taking pictures of him, we really didn’t see anything that was gross or X-rated or even R rated. For the most part everyone behaved themselves.

Back uptown we went to be with family to eat omelets and watch the Rex parade. Then as the truck parades made their way through the crowds spewing all manner of beads, toys and stuff, and as the streets started to fill up with uncaught and discarded trinkets we traveled back down to the Quarter and — what luck!– found a parking spot right in front of Cafe Du Monde.

The Quarter was a lot more crowded now, more so than I can remember at this time of day on Fat Tuesday. We found a pirate group shooting beads with a clever slingshot cannon up to the third floor of the Pontalba Apartments, each round followed by resounding cheers from the crowd.

Bourbon Street was packed with people but I never once felt it was too much or gross. It was just people having fun. We made our way to the Pirates Alley bar for their incredible made-from-scratch Bloody Mary and marveled at the creative costumes and little parades of people strolling by.

It was a full day and never in my life have I gone down to the Quarter twice on Mardi Gras. But I found it to be a good experiment and one that we will likely try again in the future. I would give this Carnival and A+.

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Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans History.

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