The Festigals Step Up Parade is the city’s largest women’s second-line parade. The parade is part of the Festigals weekend gathering of women creating opportunities for networking, education, fundraising and, of course, New Orleanian fun. A fundraising event, this year’s stroll raised thousands for the New Orleans Area American Heart Association.
Festigals was my first parade as a Pussyfooter 7 years ago so it will always hold strong memories for me of experiencing the instant feedback of people smiling at us, waving, taking photos. I thought it might be like walking a very long red carpet, but it’s so much more intimate and full of joy. Photographers on a red carpet are looking for shots they can sell. The crowds lining our city’s parades interact with us and the people taking pictures are mostly doing it to capture the moment. It’s a fundamentally different relationship.
Our non-profit organization of over 100 women over 30 was just one of dozens of dance troupes and walking krewes that helped raise money and participated in the second line. The Sirens, Oui Dats, Amelia Earhawts, Bosom Buddies, Femme Fatale dance krewe and other local favorites were joined by the polka-dotted Mande Milkshakers from the North Shore and the Baton Rouge BeignYAYS. Award-winning fiddler Amanda Shaw served as Grand Diva spreading cheer in the 90 degree evening heat.
The Festigals organization is about sisterhood and coming together for all types of support. Dancing through the French Quarter to Harrah’s, I loved being a part of our women’s krewes and their costumed sisterhoods.