Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Late Mardi Gras meets Spring Break for Rowdy Fete!

Krewe of Zulu

Krewe of Zulu

Hail Bacchus!

Hail Bacchus!

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Gray skies couldn't dampen the spirit as Mardi Gras revelers partied on Fat Tuesday in waves of parading, costuming, drinking - and political commentary.

Some bared flesh and threw beads on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, while others wore costumes lampooning the BP oil spill or other headline-grabbing events. Overall, this year's Carnival season has been among the most raucous since Hurricane Katrina, partly because it overlaps with many colleges' spring breaks.

Clarinetist Pete Fountain kicked off street parading shortly after dawn with his marching group. The traditionally African-American Krewe of Zulu and the parade of Rex, King of Carnival, followed. Mayor Mitch Landrieu led Zulu on horseback before dismounting at the antebellum-columned Gallier Hall for champagne toasts with Mardi Gras royalty.

The party would go on until midnight, when Carnival is replaced by the Christian season of Lent.

For many, the fun came in watching costumed partiers - and their themes.

A troupe of black-clad skeletons known as a Bone Gang paraded through the streets in a tradition dating from the 1800s that has voodoo overtones.

"The idea is it's kind of a warning for people in the neighborhoods, for the children in particular, to live right because we're all going to die," said Michael Crutcher, a Bone Gang member and college instructor.

In the Treme neighborhood, Ashley Scharfenstein, 24, dressed as a peacock with a black corset. She was jiving to the music at the street party, then strolled off to the French Quarter.

"Wherever the music takes us, we're going," she said.

Other costumed groups added political barbs to their revelry.

In Bywater, walking clubs gathered for the annual saunter to the Quarter known as the St. Anne's parade.

"This is what Mardi Gras is all about, lampooning," said Pat Kent, a retired hospital executive clad as a gun-toting priest. He and a friend were going as the "krewe of guns in church."

"Today I'm packing for Jesus," he said. Kent said his costume was in protest of a new Louisiana law allowing people to carry weapons in church.

Nearby, the occasional clown, a Moammar Ghadafi lookalike, women in flowing dresses and a Roman soldier gathered.

In the French Quarter, satire was in bloom as maskers took aim at last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Allen Logue, 58, was clad as a one-man oil spill clean-up crew. The oil field consultant from Barataria, La., didn't have to do much shopping to build his costume. He already had a hard-hat helmet and BP-branded sweat shirt from work he did for the company in Alaska.

"The only thing I had to shop for was the Jim Beam and that was to ease the pain of the oil spill," Logue said.

Logue also carried super-absorbent kitchen napkins to clean any mess he might encounter, though the most likely spill on Bourbon Street would be beer and not crude oil.

For Paul and Amy Maudive of Long Beach, Calif., coming to Mardi Gras has been a tradition since 1976. Each year they dress in an Elvis-themed costume. After Hurricane Katrina they wrapped themselves in the blue tarps that covered so many blown-away rooftops, and last year they billed themselves as Elvitar, in tribute to the movie "Avatar."

This year, they were all oil spill.

Dressed in oil-stained jumpsuits with Elvis-style capes, they'd glued plastic birds and crabs to their costumes.

Sylvia Beyer, 57, of New Orleans led a group of 5 women in grass skirts and hats with the BP logo. On the back of their shirts were slogans, such as Broken Promises, Brazen Polluters and Bloody Pathetic. As they walked along, they passed out makeshift voodoo dolls with a photo of former BP CEO Tony Hayward pasted to each.

"We just wanted to stick it to BP. We put more time into these costumes than BP did in their disaster plan," Beyer said.

Hal and Sharon Moser of New Orleans mocked the new national healthcare program with their outfits. Hal Moser strolled along Bourbon Street dressed in a hospital gown with bloody bandages and a fake ax pasted to his head. "I've got a split-open headache from it," Moser said. His wife dressed as a nurse.

The Transportation Security Administration also took hits. One group outfitted as TSA inspectors carried signs referring to body cavity searches.

John Chapman of Mandeville, La., tried a different approach. He dressed as a Chilean miner, complete with an escape pod attached to his back.

Locals were in a triumphant mood, and not without reason.

New Orleans - America's poster child of disaster - has come a long way since Hurricane Katrina. Its beloved New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl last year and it has largely overcome the disaster of the BP oil spill.

This year, the timing of Mardi Gras helped. It fell later than usual and coincides with spring break for college students. Students have been out in force - giving more punch to the annual pre-Lenten celebration.

Two friends on spring break from Wilmington College made a 12-hour drive from Ohio.

Garret Lingoe, 21, a junior, clutched a beer at midmorning Tuesday as he talked in awe of Mardi Gras. "I didn't know I was coming here until about 5 days ago and I'm sure happy I did."

Seth Howard, a 23-year-old senior, echoed his sentiments. "Everybody down here is just so nice and laid back."

Ali Miller, 23, an early childhood education major at Southeastern Louisiana University, was jubilant as she walked Tuesday morning after a long night of drinking in the French Quarter.

"There is nothing like New Orleans," she said. "I would never ever want to grow up anywhere but here! And Mardi Gras is the craziest time you could ever have in life - I don't know what else to say."

Mardi Gras was being celebrated across the Gulf Coast, in cities including Mobile, Ala., and Biloxi, Miss. In the Cajun country of southwest Louisiana, masked riders on horseback continued the tradition of riding from town to town making merry along the way.

Check out the article at WAFB.com.

Happy Mardi Gras!!!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2011

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2011

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2011

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2011

The Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade is always full of surprises, even for its organizers.

“I don’t know what to expect sometimes, and that’s the neat thing about it,” Bruce Childers, president of the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Association said last week. “It’s not the pomp and circumstance that you might find in a New Orleans big-time parade, the real nice floats, that’s great and everything, but we’ve always wanted to gear this parade to the working guy, the average Joe, let’s say, and leave it up to the imagination. We give them a theme to play with, and the talents take it from there.”

The ever-popular and often politically incorrect parade pokes jabs at everyone from politicians to big-name corporations, this year’s target being British Petroleum. The theme is “BP Blows and Wiki Leaks.”

“We chose this year’s theme because it was more or less a current event, but we certainly haven’t lost sight of the fact that there was a loss of life in there, so we’re not trying to minimize the effects that the BP disaster had on family members and friends,” Childers said. “Our hearts go out to them, truly, we wish we wouldn’t have had this theme, to be honest with you.”

The parade, which will roll through downtown and Spanish Town Saturday, will honor Zappe Endeavors (Zappe’s potato chips) founder Ron Zappe, who passed away in June.

“He was such a supporter of ours,” Childers said. “He played a big role in the parade, of course, was in the parade every year, and helped us in some financing from time to time.”

Childers also explained that in the midst of all the carnival mayhem, this is a charitable event raising money for local causes. The money is generated from parade float entry fees and tickets to the association’s annual ball.

“And we had a very successful ball this year, so we’re ending up with a little more money for the charities. We did well.”

Childers also had some advice for where not to catch the parade.

“I don’t think you want to get on Spanish Town Road, because that’s pretty much standing room only. We do have an area by the St. James (Episcopal) Church on Convention Street that is the alcohol-free family zone. And also, they’re doubling up with the Smoke-Free America. We’re actually the first in the state, maybe in the nation, to provide a zone such as the alcohol-free zone, and now this is the first year that the Smoke-Free America has gotten involved with that area.”

Childers said that barricaded area is very popular, and there haven’t been any problems with people conforming to the rules for that space.

With the parade only a day away, Childers is looking upward.

“I’m wishing and hoping and trying to dial up a good day weather-wise.”

Check out the article at The Advocate.

Looks like it's gonna be a wet one... but, who cares? Party on!!! =D