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The Coldest, Wettest Mardi Gras? Carnival 2014 Comes to Frigid End

Note: Although Mardi Gras was a month ago, people talk around here how cold it was. I wrote this a couple days after into Lent. I’m just posting this now…

OK well, we had a great weekend before Mardi Gras, weather was pretty nice. Then what the heck happened? That danged ole polar vortex had got us in its spell. And I opened the front door Mardi Gras morning and got hit with a blast of arctic air. And a wet arctic air at that.

The Coldest, Wettest Mardi Gras? Carnival 2014 Comes to Frigid End

New Orleans Mardi Gras 2007: Zulu Parade on St...

I saw raindrops hitting the street and everything just looked so wet and I said to myself, I ain’t gonna go out in that, I ain’t gonna go stand on the street and watch some floats go by and try to catch some beads. Nah uh. The house is just too danged warm for that. So we turned on the TV and settled in to do our Mardi Gras on the couch and watch all the fun and festivities of Fat Tuesday from a warm spot in front of the tube.

Then I got to thinking. Heck, if I were in one of the parades, I’d have to be out there. If I were a cop, I’d have to be out there, if I were some TV reporter I’d have to be out there. Then they showed some shots along Jackson Avenue of all the folks lined up to watch the Zulu parade. Hm. They looked like they were having fun.

Some more shots in front of the reviewing stand by Gallier Hall and saw some great costumes and people out there with umbrellas all looking like they were passing a good time. I opened the front door again just to check to see if I’d made the right decision by staying home. And the the cold wet air hit me and just could not imagine myself going out there and standing on the street in that weather. I saw now more drops hitting little puddles in the street.

Now I started getting antsy. I was feeling that maybe I should at least see some Mardi Gras live and on the street. Maybe I was being, ok, just a little wimpy. After all, I’ve gone camping in freezing wet weather and then I was totally outside for a couple days. Surely, I could be just a little adventurous and go do a couple hours on the street.

So suddenly my whole mentation just shifted and I was in gear to put on the costume on top of some long-johns, get some food together and go join my brother and his friends where they have a spot on St. Charles Avenue. I figured if I moved fast enough I could at least see some of the Rex parade.

So within a few minutes I was ready to go, and after dressing warmly hopped in the car and tooled it on down Prytania Street passed Napoleon and down a little ways. Had no problem finding a spot to park since the crowds were not very big, and got on over to my brother’s spot on St. Charles. It was about 11 o’clock and I managed to get there in time to see Rex float number 7 go by. There my family and friends were, in a protected shelter making omelets, sitting in folding chairs and drinking beers and other libations. It was cold but, heck, they all looked like they were having a good time.

I popped open a cold beer. I know, it was freezing and I was drinking a freezing cold beer. And yeah, it was cold standing in the street holding an icy can of beer in one hand and waving the other hand trying to get some beads and doubloons, and I got a little damp from the constant drizzling rain.

But the people out there were all having fun. Lots of smiles all around and lots of kids seemingly unperturbed and impervious to the inclement weather. As I moved and danced around in my fat suit (I was costumed as Rob Ryan, defensive coach for the New Orleans Saints) for the float riders in order to make a scene so they would throw me more stuff, I actually started feeling sort of warm. Well, let’s say not quite as cold as I originally felt.

And with less people on the street, and the riders being able to easily pick me out of the crowd I actually caught a lot of stuff. Yeah, it was messy. The streets were wet, muddy in parts but, heck, it’s Mardi Gras. And, yep, I had fun.

When Rex was done and the truck parades started the crowd really thinned out even more. Dancing in the street to the music of the truck floats I got pelted with lots of throws and filled up a big bag with beads and plush toys. I’ll give ’em to the kids.

So after being there for a couple hours and having my fill of omelette, chile and beer and helping by brother, his wife and friends clean and pack up, I got my stuff together and headed back in the rain to the car. I did my civic duty and saw another Carnival season come to a close. And I really had a nice time. Felt like I had accomplished something important.

Despite the frigid wet conditions, Mardi Gras went on. And there we were out in it, we die hards who love this city and our annual celebration and can’t imagine missing it even for once.


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