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Louisiana >> Mardi Gras 2
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...
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 !
Mask...ed policeman !
float among many others...
each "Krewe" (carnival club) organizes a several-miles parade in the
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.
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).
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 ;)
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).
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...
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...
Band : swing, crowd, swing !
yeah, Babe !
Thus it is a complete
show which passes through the enchanted public...
gets most of the fun ?
The public or the one-day actors ?
we ever know ?
it really him ?
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...
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 !
of the Underwear, "King of the comics"
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...
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.
famous "Desire" café,
in the name of "A tramway named Desire"
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.
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
Just have to be in the mood and nice !
is the most important during Mardi Gras.
is the fire ?
So don't condemn
Mardi Gras in its crazy New Orleans version until you've been in it.
it a chance !
To the first "Mardi
To my last "Louisiana"
page with some more pictures...
Page créée le 25 février 2001 - Mise à jour le
25 février 2001
Pierre Gieling - tous droits réservés