Our youngest son, Mark Joseph, is working at a small design firm in New Orleans as a co-op this semester. Just in time for Mardi Gras, the Superbowl, and the Jazz Festival. Last weekend we visited him after Mardi Gras.
But I had heard the stories and always wondered what it would be like to be in New Orleans for Carnivale. It was nice having our own private foreign correspondent covering the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans while we watched from a safe distance and in the comfort of our own home miles away.
In New Orleans, the Mardi Gras celebrations begin at least a month in advance of Fat Tuesday with weekend parades that ratchet up to daily parades as the big day approaches. The parades are a big deal there and organizations and “crews” start preparing for next year’s event before the debris from this year’s has been swept away.
As the parades wind through downtown, the French Quarter, uptown, and the suburbs, streets are lined with revelers anxious to catch beaded necklaces or other items thrown from the people on the floats and in the parades.
The Zulu (social aid and pleasure club) parade is one of the most popular.
“Of all the throws to rain down from the many floats in the parades during carnival, the Zulu coconut or “Golden Nugget” is the most sought after. The earliest reference to the coconut appears to be about 1910 when the coconuts were given from the floats in their natural “hairy” state. Some years later there is a reference to Lloyd Lucus, “the sign painter,” scraping and painting the coconuts. This, in all likelihood, was the forerunner to the beautifully decorated coconuts we see today,” (http://www.kreweofzulu.com/history).
Mark Joseph was thrilled to catch one of Zulu’s coconuts. These are the prizes of parade-goers.
Another very popular parade is the Muses parade where they throw decorated shoes out to the crowd. Technically, Mark Joseph didn’t actually “catch” this shoe, proving once again it is all about who you know. When we visited Mark Joseph this past weekend, we enjoyed having dinner with the creator of this shoe who told us she has already begun work on next year’s shoes.
I didn’t catch the name of this parade, but felt it deserved notice. I’m not sure what, if anything, these guys were throwing to the crowd. Remote controllers perhaps?
All this revelry and throwing of things does lead to something of a mess after the parade passes by, but we have it on the best authority, that in a manner similar to the autumn leaves of Camelot, the bits of paper are whisked away at night.
Some beads, however, are left dangling from tree limbs,
or intentionally thrown there.
Sometimes there’s simply no denying the intentionality of the bead decorations around poles,
or on gates.
They add to the effect of other left-over decortations that brighten the houses, doorways, and balconies of New Orleans after Mardi Gras.
See more posts about New Orleans.