Apparently, Halloween is the third largest holiday in New Orleans, but don’t quote me on that as I got the info from a bartender finishing his shift at Rawhide, not the Guinness World Book of Records. But Guinness was here to count how many people wore costumes to the Saints game Sunday. With almost 18,000 people in costumes – mostly black and gold, we set the record for the largest costume party.
But, let me back up. Friday, I went to my second Hornets game. We got to sit in one of the suites with free food and beverage, a great view and a handful of people. Unlike L.A., where suites are typically filled with rich men and sexy girls, we shared our game with people who worked with non-profits or health care and their excited children. There were families throughout the stadium, many in costumes. Even the mascot had a Ghostbusters costume over his giant hornet outfit. The Honeybees did some fun dance routines, including one to Thriller. At halftime, a man called The Human Flag did a routine that nearly defies explanation. It was a beautiful display of grace and strength and… flagdom. To see a portion of what we saw:
Best of all, the team has a new coach and 2 weeks into his tenure, it’s like watching a whole new team. They were awesome and handily beat a “better” team, the Denver Nuggets. It was a blast. As a side note, I think it’s funny that Saints and LSU attire is not only appropriate at everything from barbecues to church, it’s also standard outfitting for any sporting event. There were far more Saints shirts than Hornets gear filling the stadium.
After the game, we walked to the French Quarter and wandered down busy Bourbon Street. A band played Thriller on the corner of Bourbon and Canal and it was clear the city was getting in the mood for the weekend. You may have heard that we have plenty of crime here and it’s true. Someone was shot at that corner later that night, someone else was knifed a block away when he defended his wife, a friend of mine’s car was stolen from in front of her house and when we got back to the place in the Quarter, our Boo Dat! pumpkin was gone. I’ve lived in D.C., N.Y. and L.A. and can tell you that crime is a crappy part of living in any big city. It’s a tradeoff.
Saturday and Sunday were a blur of costumes. In the French Quarter, when someone wears garb from the 1800’s, the historically preserved city serves as a perfect backdrop. There are many moments here when you can ignore the cars and electrical wires and transport yourself to a time of horse-drawn carriages and hoop skirts, but when someone is literally wearing a hoop skirt and sitting in a carriage, the cars look more out of place than they do. I love it.
Another popular theme was to dress as a group of people. There were chain gangs and football teams, but the most popular were groups of miners honoring the recently rescued Chilean miners. There were also plenty of comical couples like Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf or Mary Poppins and the chimney sweep.
Saturday was the parade down Decatur. John Goodman, formerly of HBO’s Treme, served as the celebrity host to Blaine Kerns extravaganza. An Exorcist girl’s giant head spun and spiders, ghouls and gross creatures adorned the elaborate and spooky floats from which costumed people threw beads, toys and candy. There were decorated clydesdales, shetlands, and dogs and row after row of dancers and majorettes including the Gold Dusters, Highsteppers and Twirling Dolls. There were Ghost Riders, Pussyfooters and Bearded Oysters as well as a marching band. For a compilation of the event, watch:
Sunday was game day in addition to being Halloween. I’m not sure which the city was more excited about. The Steelers also have the team colors of black and gold so the city was awash in the color combo. Costumes included “Who Bat” and “Dat Man.” But once the game started, the streets, once packed with revelers, were empty save the random tourist on a carriage tour. Everyone jammed into bars to watch the team find it’s rhythm and kick the Steelers’ butts. Boo Dat!
Afterward, I stood on Decatur and watched an ocean of spooky and humorous creativity pass by. In a city of almost 400,000 people, I happened to run into a friend visiting from Los Angeles. I was so glad he got to see the city victorious and celebrating. L.A. also makes a pretty big deal over Halloween, but I’ve noticed over the years that most of the men there dress as women and most of the women dress like porn versions of characters from nursery rhymes or nurses or cops or firefighters or, well, anything for which they make a porn version costume. We made a small attempt at visiting Bourbon Street, but it was too packed to enter any bar or walk without spilling your drink so we found a fun spot to watch the night wind down and visited with passer-bys. Enjoy the video and photos.