Mardis Gras!

Trip Start Jan 24, 2009
Trip End Mar 29, 2009

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Where I stayed
Timeshare, Wyndham St. Charles

Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What can I say, Mardis Gras in New Orleans is a unique experience.  Up until now, words like Bedlam, Mayhem, Mass Hysteria, have all been academic for me (well maybe except that Bad Religion concert at the Santa Cruz Civic, Whoa!), until now.  I have never seen a city carried away so totally to near anarchy!  Thank goodness for the bazillion cops posted every 10 feet along the parade route to keep everything moving, and to think I almost missed it!

I thought the main parade started at noon on Fat Tuesday (24th), but it really began at 9 AM, DOH!  I didn't arrive untill 10 AM and to make matters worse, the streets in all directions of the parade route for 5 miles were completely paralyzed.  I had to park in some terrible neighborhood and litteraly hike in on foot!  I couldn't get to my timeshare hotel which was along the parade route.  I packed enough clothes and esentials for one night into a back-pack and hoofed it in.  When I got there, the parade had already begun! 

So I quickly got checked in and hit the street with camera in hand.  I was immediately blown away by the sheer magnitude and craziness of the goings on.  The parades in Mobile were childs play compared to this.  Lucky for me, I got there right when the "Zulu" Krewe were parading.  The Zulu's are the first and oldest Black Krewe and are famous for their parade "throws".  I quickly got frustrated by not being able to move around to see things due to the sheer hoards of people thronging the parade route and screaming to the floats for throws.  So I jumped into the parade!  Now I could get an insiders view of the parade and move along the route which stretches for about 5 miles.  It was grat fun, and people started throwing beads at me too! 

After a while, you really need to take a break.  The parade goes on all day and you get worn out.  I tried to find some street vendors for some food and drink but none were to be found.  I finally noticed that all the families lining the parade route were cooking for themselves.  It's was basically the entire city camped out on the streets and having a full on picnic with bar-b-q grills every two feet.  The place was smoking up a storm, and the food looked so good.  I almost tried to buy some from a nice family but they were munching big time.

After eight solid hours of parading, the madness finally died down.  The streets were completely buried in beads and throw items.  Anything you couldn't get while the parade was on, you could get now that it was over, just look at your feet.  The streets were TRASHED!  I've never seen so much crap thrown in every direction.  It's like a gang of hooligans showed up and completely vandalized the city.  But a miracle happened.  Like clockwork, the streets became filled with hundreds of work crews and street cleaners.  I thought it would take them a million years to repair the damage, but by the next morning you could hardly tell anything ever happened.  Amazing!

After the parade, I made my way down to the French Quarter to check out Bourbon street and the party animals.  I didn't realize it, but Bourbon street is not only a bar zone, but it is also the Red Light district!  Needless to say, things got pretty "interesting" as the night carried on.  That was the biggest street party I have ever seen.  Imagine how crazy it was at the parade, now add massive quantities of alcohol and you start to get the picture.  At midnight, the police hold a "Horse" parade and basically sweep the streets clear of all the revelers.  They literally line up with a dozen Horse mounted police the width of the street and push everyone out!  "Thanks for all the fun, now get out!".

What an amazing event.  Some people fly in every year to party like rock stars!  I guess I'm getting old, I think once every ten years should do good for me.  ;  )

Well, I've got four days booked at my timeshare, so I'll be checking out the rest of the city too.  Stay tuned for more New Orleans action.

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