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Louisiana :

Mardi Gras  (2)

Jump start !

Looking for a good spot to enjoy my Xth parade, I pass by this folk on the picture.  I ask him if he's not afraid of getting in trouble by using a policeman's outfit, and he just replies...

 That he's on duty, so he must keep his uniform, but that his boss the Sheriff agreed for the Carnival add-ons !

So we talked about his job in the motorized police, then we took the picture !

The Mask...ed policeman !

A float among many others...


So, each "Krewe" (carnival club) organizes a several-miles parade in the city.

The best parades are of course held in the center of New Orleans and during the very last days before Mardi Gras, but the first ones (in January) can be very interesting.

A parade is usually made of about 30 floats (up to 200, some as big as houses !), all decorated on the chosen theme, during the previous months.

Each float holds 10 to 50 members of the Krewe, who brought a big stock of "throws" to give to the crowd (tens of thousands of people). 

In fact, each member must bring for at least 500 dollars of trinkets (criteria varies from one krewe to another) to throw to the public to have the honor of participating in the parade.

 Besides members of the club, there are of course the Captain and the Royalty.  The King is eventually a known guest : thus, Rex chooses usually a City notable or Official, while Bacchus most often invites a know artist, like Jean Claude Van Damme in 1994.  I yelled to him that I was Belgian, but either he's deaf (hits, you know...), either he was too concentrated on his "kick", either he had a miniaturized walkman, or either he does not understand French nor Flemish anymore.  Anyway, he didn't throw me anything...  Fortunately, maybe ;)

Yes, it's him !
The Belgian actor JC Van Damme is King of Bacchus this year (1994).  This photo in the Times-Picayune was titled "A kick for Carnival".  I was there of course, but without my camera (too dangerous on evenings).

Provocation ?

The public, as you can pretty easily see on this picture, is mostly made of families in the nice neighborhoods and during the day.  On evenings, it's different...

Numerous families use "ladders" for the parades : specially made for that purpose, they have a large seat on top where parents put their children, good "target" for the throws.

What's more, a ladder guards a good chosen place.  But police tries to discourage their use, because there are too many accidents : the excited crowd pushes a ladder, which falls with its occupants under a float...


Between the floats, there is the rest : horsemen like above, Bands like here, commercials floats (like the "Coors" one, drawn by Belgian horses), dancers like below...

A Band : swing, crowd, swing !

Ooh, yeah, Babe !

Thus it is a complete show which passes through the enchanted public...

But who gets most of the fun ?

The public or the one-day actors ?

Shall we ever know ?

Is it really him ?

The Queen of...er...
Gloups !
She's smiling to ME !

Anyway, the public is totally flashed.  The floats are astonishing, the Bands add a rhythmic sound to it, sometimes totally crazy, and everyone competes with very imaginative ways to get one of these prized beads...

After a moment, the collectors yell their wishes : "A red cup !  Gimme a red cup, pleeease !", and on evenings...  Aaah, on evenings, but also sometimes during the day some (well, not just "some" actually) play the game "I show, you give".

But generally, if you choose your place and time carefully, you know what to expect.

So I did enjoy the nice, childish atmosphere on St Charles Av. during the day, being invited by my friends Fran (colleague at school) and Jeff for "Mardi Gras Lunches  & Parades" !

A good meal with friends, then we would go out to the corner of their street to attend the coming parade.  When one was over, we would go back to their place for a "bathroom rest and drinks refill" until the next parade would come ! 

Fran, dear Fran...

King of the Underwear, "King of the comics"

Of course I also did appreciate more rogue participations to the parades with Roland, Ness, Brian, Jamie...

And finally the frankly more bold parties in the French Quarter !

 Because of course it's there, Temple of the evil lust to the eyes of some, that the real party is...

However there are no parades here.  Everyone is at the same time actor and spectator.  20% on the building balconies (police tries to limit this because sometimes they fall in the street under the weight of the people on them), and 80% in the streets.

The famous "Desire" café,
in the name of "A tramway named Desire"

The Oyster Bar

The game is simple : X in the street plays actor and shows, Y on the balcony rewards with a bead as long as X's "performance".  Men and women.  Don't be innocent.  The same game in the other way costs more beads, in advance please (because the performance is more visible).

Dozens of photo and video cameras are of course around.  It is not rare to watch a full strip.  Police interfere from time to time, usually too late.


The big lust, the decadence of America ?

I didn't see it like this ; only ordinary people who le down peacefully for a little while, probably victims of such a puritan society that Mardi Gras is their unique occasion to de-stress more or less innocently.

There are some excesses, but personally I came back with a lot of gifts without showing anything but my smile ;)

Just have to be in the mood and nice !

Partying is the most important during Mardi Gras.

Where is the fire ?
Everywhere !

So don't condemn Mardi Gras in its crazy New Orleans version until you've been in it.

Give it a chance !

To the first "Mardi Gras" page...

To my last "Louisiana" page with some more pictures...

Page créée le 25 février 2001 -  Mise à jour le 25 février 2001

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