New Orleans Observations (1) – My first Mardi Gras Parade

I learnt only very recently (thank you Janet), that New Orleans is often referred to as NOLA = New Orleans, Louisiana (LA).  So as I am here for the week, I will begin to post my observations.

So, I arrived last night and after unpacking and a shower I wandered off to have a look at the famous ‘French Quarter’ as the hotel is located at the edge of the district.  It is also the beginning of the Mardi Gras parade season so there are a lot of tourists as well as locals all in the area for the parades put on by the local “Krewes”.  Somehow over time reading stories and articles about New Orleans you have the idea that somehow it is special, with a unique culture and atmosphere. 

First impressions – just another over hyped, over branded ‘dump’.  One thing is clear though, if you get excited by getting totally pissed, wearing cheap coloured beads (Mardi Gras ornamentation), and falling over on the broken pavement, legs spread wide and showing your ‘muff’, then this is a great place to be.

I learnt that part of the Mardi Gras tradition is for people on the balconies to throw ‘doubloons’ to the revellers below.  I understand that there are some sort of plastic coins or of the like that represent doubloons, but last night it seemed that the only thing being thrown was just cheap plastic ‘shite’.  However what was interesting was the length people went to to attract such gifts “from above”.  I watched a group of girls on the street who were clearly excited and determined to get some of this ‘mana from heaven’ and it was clear from the males on the balcony that if they wanted some of this largess they would have to show their tits, which of course they did.  This is great, if those mammaries have an attractive form, but alas the experience (like the French Quarter) was greatly over rated.

As I began to wander back towards the hotel, I decided to stand and watch one of the parades and it was an interesting experience.  First comes the obligatory police vehicle.  in America, every parade needs to be led by a big assed police vehicle.  Then came the teenage marching bands made up of a mixture of brass bands and cheer leaders.  So I was treated to the spectacle of a significant bunch of extremely obese children squeezed into unattractive uniforms, playing brass band music with the same level of enthusiasm as most people have for dying.  This is then followed by floats aligned to a particular ‘Krewe’, who have people dressed in all sorts of customes throwing handfuls of cheap plastic ‘shite’ to the cheering crowds.  The high point of the evening was to watch “The Princesses of Peace” throwing very cheap plastic cups to the excited throngs, who to my utter amazement actually scrambled to get these.  I wouldn’t have expended the muscle energy to bend over and pick one up if it fell at my feet, but hey ‘each to their own’!   So that was my first (and probably last) New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade.

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