Sunday was Valentine’s day for everyone, but for New Orleans, it was the day romance, the Saints and Mardi Gras all collided for the perfect carnival trifecta. First, the Krewes of Okeanos, Mid-City and Thoth all rolled down St. Charles during the day.
The Okeanos Krewe features elaborate costumes for the royal court. The Krewe of Mid-City is one of the oldest continuously parading Krewes (since 1933) and is known for having some of the best bands in Mardi Gras. Thoth, one of the many Egyptian inspired Krewes, hosts one of the larger parades with lots of throws.
At night, the highly anticipated Bacchus parade rolled. Saints quarterback and Super Bowl MVP, Drew Brees, was King (and how). He threw 10,000 footballs as well as beads and other throws. His wife and some folks from Brees Dream Foundation were the first officially sanctioned female riders.
The crowds were larger as more tourists joined the festivities so the vibe did shift a bit. Locals know what an embarrassment of riches the floats will provide but some tourists fight over plain, short strands. The locals know that if a parader points at someone in the crowd, the intention is that the throw reach that person (though rules get sketchy here if it’s something really good and the intended recipient isn’t a child). Locals know not to insult paraders and to be patient when things stop for awhile for a flat tire or some other delay. No matter, a good time was had by all, even as people roped off areas and started getting territorial. And I can’t imagine anyone went home empty handed.
By this day, I began getting the hang of things and brought plastic bags with me to carry cups and other large throws. Oh, and I figured out days ago that it’s all about eye contact. Spot someone on the float and if they spot you back when their throw is ready (not tangled, or in a bag – though sometimes they just throw tangles and bags – hence the chipped teeth and head wounds) then they throw it right to you.
Speaking of which, I heard that the people who attend the Bacchus Ball arrive in evening gowns and black tie… carrying coolers and 12-packs. And, that there’s a first aid station full of festively dressed women with ice packs on their bead-smacked foreheads.
I tried to think how to describe the feeling of being with my community, cheering on one of our heros, surrounded by images of love and romance, how to paint the eccentricity of costume and culture. Finally, I decided pictures are worth thousands of words. The details are what interest me most. Try looking at the people in the crowd, the parents with children of their shoulders, the older neighbors enjoying yet another fabulous parade in yet another decade – but as champions this time.
Here’s 8 1/2 minutes of footage from the Bacchus Parade. Remember that you can go to full-screen mode by clicking the 4-arrow icon on the bottom right.
I literally cry with happiness that I was here for all of this when I see any video footage. If you doubt how deep this is running for me, watch this guy’s 9 minute video with some great shots of Drew Brees, the crowds, the flambeaus and bubbles. Then know that they “had me” at the discussion of the pick-up hauling a “portalette” (many pick-ups were parked throughout town with personal porta-potties in the back and apparently, this guy was one of the owners).