Mardi Gras 2004

February 25, 2004

Yesterday was the final day of the Mardi Gras season, and as some of my regular readers might guess, I like to catch a parade or two during the month. I admit right now that I had a crappier parade-going schedule this year than most. We had pretty consistent cold rain in February, except for the final weekend, when we were in Las Vegas.

One more excuse before I actually mention any parades: the nature of these events forces you to choose to cover it in a journalistic fashion, or as a drinking, bead-catching participant. Wonder which path I chose?

The first parade that I caught this year was entirely by accident. Two Fridays ago, I went downtown for a beer after work. We had a good, steady, and cold rain. Baton Rouge's finest had street after street blocked off, for absolutely no one. I couldn't get to any of the empty parking lots that would have meant a short walk through the rain.

The actual parade looked okay. They seemed to have a good number of bands, and plenty of floats. But there couldn't have possibly been one family member for all of the parade participants. I waited outside through two floats, and of course, there was plenty to catch. The most interesting bead was a strand of blue, with a plastic representation of a bottle of Windex dangling from it. Windex? Can you imagine calling the Chinese company that makes beads and trying to explain your order for several thousand Windex beads?

Baton Rouge also has a dog parade that is usually lots of fun. You would enjoy reading about it -- if I had actually gone. Oh well. Gives you something to look forward to next year.

I went to two New Orleans parades this year, which rolled back to back.
The first was Saturn, which wasn't really that good. I think they got delayed somewhere along the parade route, and there were a few floats that were out of beads by the time they got downtown. There were also flambeaus, who were out of fuel, which made them just regular guys carrying big metal contraptions for no apparent reason.

The final parade was Muses. Heather has been a member of this krewe for the few years that it has been in existence. They usually throw a pretty good parade. As usual, I caught tons of good stuff, but it is far more satisfying catching from a stranger than from a ringer on one of the floats. Their floats were big and good (One was a giant shoe, covered in glowing fiber-optic strands. There seems to be some question about whether the woman on top of the shoe was a real woman or a drag queen. Email me if you know.)

They also had a band of Elvises on really small scooters. I wonder how I get into scooter riding with a bunch of Elvises. That looks like a much better hobby than typing stupid junk for the internet.

During the course of the parade, I learned that in some New Orleans homes, it is considered stylish to hang your good beads from the nice chandelier that one has hanging somewhere in the house. I couldn't wait to get home and get my Windex bead up above the dining room table.

There was also a pack of grown-ups dressed and acting like a high school band, but I'm not sure what that was all about. I think that ever since American Pie came out, band nerds are proud to flaunt their band-nerdiness. No movie ever did more for a specific pack of nerds.

At the after-party, all the parade participants were just cold and tired. Except for the Elvises and their appropriately costumed dates, it cleared out pretty quickly.