Easter started with fireworks exploding over the Mississippi Saturday night around 11 pm for no reason we could find. Sunday morning, walking to the Camellia Grill for breakfast, The Historic French Quarter Easter Parade rolled by. Established by Count Arnaud’s daughter (of Arnaud’s Restaurant, est. 1918), the parade was mostly carriages of elegant older women in fabulous hats. They parade Jackson Square before attending mass at the Cathedral and returning to Arnaud’s for lunch.
One of the rare parades that rolls Bourbon Street, Chris Owens’ Parades began after lunch. A burlesque performer since the 60’s and owner of the Chris Owens Club (as well as a chunk of the Bourbon Street block it sits on), she set the tone with her festive floral hat and steel grey ruffled gown and gloves.
The Storyville Stompers Brass Band and Jennifer Jones, with her silk flower second line umbrella, led the way for the Farhad Grotto Bug Patrol, song siren Margie Perez wearing a particularly creative (and edible) Peeps hat and McDonogh #35 High School with their tiny baton twirler keeping pace with the big kids.
The Easter Bunny rode by in a convertible and blew me a kiss followed by bicycles done up as animals like a gator, a bull, a pegasus and a crawfish. There were even tiny ponies with hooves painted pink or green and a wagon carrying a boy with a lamb on his lap. Best throw – Barbies redecorated in feathers and sparkly fabrics. As the last bunny turned the corner, our resident “human traffic light” kept things moving in her black lingerie and pumps with pink bunny ears atop her head.
After a few moments of rest, the annual Gay Parade gathered in front of Armstrong Park and rolled under a rainbow balloon arch spanning St. Ann’s. Jennifer Jones again led the way in her silk flowers, this time followed by Smitty Dee’s Brass Band.
Looking much like the earlier Historic Parade, carriages carried men dressed as elegant women in fabulous hats only with the Gay Parade more is more as the hats had even more feathers, flowers and flights of fancy. The oldest Gay Krewe and one of the oldest gay organizations around, Krewe of Petronius, rolled. There were statement groups like the spiritual and vocal transgender group calling themselves New Legacy seeking to empower the TBLG community and asking for an end to silence and the Radical Faeries, a group of predominantly gay man practicing spirituality, respect for the Earth and individual responsibility.
The more silly “Real Housewives of New Orleans” enjoyed poking fun at the overly dramatic television series. 3rd Line Brass Band led the way for the Alice in Wonderland themed closing float carrying Queen Mwindo XIII, Dennis Walton. The Krewe of Mwindo seeks to provide the Carnival experience to people who are typically excluded from traditional celebrations as well as providing other community outreach programs.
Watching the 3 parades nearly back to back, the inconvenient truth was that the distance between socialites, burlesque dancers and drag queens is razor thin. Their lifestyles may be very different but their appearance was like the same woman adding layers of make-up. I’m so glad I live in a city where everyone gets their moment in the sun.
After the parades, it was time to walk to the Hornets game 4 of the play-offs. As with game 3, which I attended earlier, the game opened with a prayer and the stadium singing the National Anthem, this time beautifully played by Irvin Mayfield. The 610 Stompers took the court during a break and delighted the crowd with one of their signature high energy routines.
The halftime show was Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers who played many favorites including The Treme Song. As they covered the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling, we all enthusiastically sang the chorus, “Tonight’s gonna be a good night!” It was hard to keep the faith throughout the evening as it often seemed the refs weren’t seeing what we were, but it was even more disheartening to hear later that ESPN apparently had no idea who Kermit was and made no effort to find out.
Ultimately, none of it mattered as, after a slow start, we stayed ahead of the Lakers for nearly the whole evening. As the game entered its last minutes and we’d chanted “Beat L.A.” for the umpteenth time (very therapeutic for me), they played Stand Up and Get Crunk, the intimidating Saints Superbowl fight song, and we all danced and chanted, “Here we come to get you!” It was electrifying to see the stadium full and proud after having almost lost the team earlier in the season. Once again, this city came together and though our victory may not last forever it felt oh so sweet.
We enjoyed the long walk home and turned on HBO to watch the premiere episode of Treme. More on that later, but it was the perfect end to a perfect balmy day full of celebration and fervor for our wonderful city and all of its many facets.
Enjoy the bonnets!