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Happy Mardi Gras! New Orleans Craziness

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

semi-overcast 0 °F

After the late night last night, we left later than planned for the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades. We were concerned about where we were going to park since we were told at the visitors' center that we should park by 6am and someone else had told us the night before that we should be there by 7am. BUT we arrived at 11am and found a parking lots with a spot for us :-)

We are parked at the edge of the French Quarter, so we decide to take the 'scenic' route to the parade - through the zaniness of Royal and Bourbon Streets on Mardi Gras Day! Both streets were crowded but walkable. There were a few drunks already, but mostly tourists and lots of people in crazy costumes. Even before we got to Bourbon Street, there was a small impromptu parade of a small band and costumed walkers--this is going to be an interesting day! All of the costumes were creative and definately home-made. A few were adult-rated, but most were fine for Joe and we felt very comfortable taking him through that area. It was early in the day -- we did not attempt to come back to this area, full of bars and voodoo parlors, later in the day. IMG_5518.jpg

We walked to Canal Street and watched the end of the Zulu parade and caught one of the necklaces with a Zulu medallion for a souvenir. We sat on the curb and ate our sandwiches and talked to the people around us for the hour til the next parade and then realized they were waiting for the Truck parade, not the Rex parade that we were waiting for, so when we saw the Rex parade turn the corner in the distance, we quickly walked two blocks south on Canal and watched the Rex Parade. We only missed the first few floats. By this time, we realized that the baracades that the police put on Canal street to control the crowds mean absolutely nothing and we stood with the crowd in the street, yelling and waving our hands to throw beads and trinkets. Joe had a ball! It really was a lot of fun, with the interaction between the crowd and the people on the floats. There was a lady standing beside me with a upside down cut-out gallon container on the end of a 6 foot pole -- she would hold it up and try to catch things in it. I forgot she had come and went up to catch a bag of beads one time and this bucket came out of nowhere and caught the beads right above my hands. I looked over at her in surprise and she said, "Here. These are for you." I said she could keep them and she explained that she's just out there helping people catch things. She was having a lot of fun. IMG_5535.jpg

Did I mention that as we were sitting on the curb eating our sandwiches between parades, I looked around and realized that the crowd where we were standing was 98% African-American? When I realized this, I wondered for an instant if they thought we were trespassing. But I had been talking to some of the people around us and they were all friendly, so I decided it didn't matter.

Anyway, as soon as the Rex parade finished, the Truck Parade started. We weren't sure what the Truck parade was, but it turned out to be even more fun than the Rex parade. It was 90 tractor trailer trucks decorated for Mardi Gras by families or groups. They each had about a dozen riders throwing out more beads and lots of trinkets. By the end of these 3 parades, there were families who had filled 3 large bags of trinkets to take home. The kids love these parades!!! We had initially started watching this parade behind the police barracades, but Joe and I quickly learned that if we wanted any of the trinkets, we needed to go out in the street with the other kids. I did hear on the news the next morning that a number of people went to the first aid station when floats ran over there feet -- I'm not surprised.IMG_5544.jpg

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The parades were over around 4pm, so we walked to the end of Canal Street to the Riverwalk to go get more beniets (sp?) and coffee au lait at Cafe du Monde. It felt so good to sit down!!!! We sat there by the river for about an hour.

We walked along the edge of the French Quarter to our car and got back to the campground around 7pm. We decided to end our Mardi Gras with a visit to the casino's buffet. For me, it turned out to be an 'all you can eat' crab legs -- and I had A LOT!! with an ear of corn and a piece of cake. Good end to a great day!!!

Posted by jengelman 06:07 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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