Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Over most of the U.S., today is Super Tuesday, the day when 24 states hold their presidential primary elections to elect delegates to the national party conventions to be held this summer. The candidates have been campaigning madly for months. Those with the most delegates pledged to them will be the official candidates of our major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. (Flag clipart from http://www.historyimages.com/.)

Here in Louisiana, however, it’s Fat Tuesday, better known as Mardi Gras. Louisiana’s presidential primary election won’t be held until Saturday, February 9. (Good thing, too—if it coincided with Mardi Gras, the vote turnout would be really low. In fact, the state wouldn’t be able to get enough poll commissioners to run the precincts in south Louisiana.)

The long weekend just past was a hearty-partying celebration featuring a multitude of parades—not only in New Orleans, but all over south Louisiana. In New Orleans alone, the “super krewes” of Endymion, Bacchus, and Orpheus paraded successively on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights. These parades are fabulous, the sheer beauty and glamour of their floats and costumes beyond description. Rolling at night, lit by millions of fiber optics, they create a incomparable experience. (Photo of Orpheus float by Sharon Keating, About.com’s Guide to New Orleans Travel.)

Today is the final big blowout. Ten parade krewes will roll within the 30-mile area around New Orleans. In the city itself, the day begins with Zulu, followed by Rex (King of Carnival), followed by hundreds of truck floats in the krewes of Elks Orleans and Crescent City; in suburban Metairie, Argus, followed by the truck krewes of Jefferson Trucks and Elks Jefferson; across the Mississippi in Gretna, Grela; on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Lions and Covington. (The Northshore is home to Charles Gramlich, for readers of his Razored Zen blog.) Not to mention walking groups such as Pete Fountain’s Half-Fast Marching Club and the Jefferson City Buzzards, both of which have been trekking from Uptown to the French Quarter on Mardi Gras for over 40 years.

The festivities officially end at midnight tonight, when a phalanx of New Orleans Police Department officers, led by the Chief of Police, sweep down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, warning the revelers, “Mardi Gras is now over! Mardi Gras is now over!,” followed by a fleet of sanitation trucks sweeping up the mounds of debris.


Shauna Roberts said...

I’m wearing socks my mother-in-law dyed purple, yellow, and green; purple pants; a green v-neck sweater with a yellow t-shirt underneath; and iridescent purple, green, and gold earrings made by Oscar (of the French Market). I'm listening to WWOZ via iTunes. But it's just not the same as walking down to Napoleon Avenue to watch the Rex parade.

Charles Gramlich said...

The lights and costuming is certainly something worth seeing

Lana Gramlich said...

We went to Endymion once. To date I've never seen it. I have plenty of pictures of peoples's backs & ladders & none of the parade whatsoever. The icing on the cake was getting sucker-pelted in the face with a bag of beads I wasn't yelling for.
Party pooper or no, I think I'll stick to my deck.

Sphinx Ink said...

Shauna, glad you commemorated Mardi Gras by dressing for it--you were with us in spirit!

Charles and Lana, thanks for commenting. As Charles says, the lights and costumes are worth seeing, but as Lana noted, due to huge crowds it can be hard to get close enough to see Endymion or the other super-krewe parades when you're there in person. For years I lived a few blocks off the Endymion parade route, so I used to go watch the parade. Endymion was notorious, however, for having huge gaps between floats, and used to take hours and hours to pass, so sometimes I'd give up and go home before the end of the parade. It surely was beautiful, though. From what I saw on TV, this year--Endymion's first parade on its traditional route since Katrina--they were a little better time-wise.

Steve Malley said...

Wow, fun post!

I can't believe it: I check in and check in, and after I give you a week or so off, you put up three posts!

Maybe I should give you a week off more often...

Rae Ann Parker said...

Thanks for a glimpse of Mardi Gras from afar. It felt strange not to be there this year. We did have a taste of Mardi Gras with a Randazzo's king cake delivered on Tuesday.

cs harris said...

I went to Endymion twice. The first time I was standing near a corner; a police car hooked a barricade and nearly crushed me against a stone wall before the crowd's shouting got it to stop. The next time my sister got hit in the eye, shattering her contact. Spending the night of Endymion in the Emergency Room gives one a whole new perspective on Mardi Gras!