I’ve loved dancing with the Pussyfooters in the annual Krewe of Jingle holiday parade for years. Sadly, the parade didn’t survive the pandemic, so organizers from various local organizations came together to create the first ever Children’s Hospital Holiday Parade. The float builders at Kern Studios created Louisiana and New Orleans-centritc floats like alligators and Mr. Bingle. TV cameras were set up throughout the city to report the action. Floating balloons (like in the Macy’s parade) were added to the many dance krewes and school bands crowds have come to expect. And sponsors were brought in to help pay for everything.
Corporate sponsors are not allowed in the Mardi Gras parades and many of us have mixed feelings about sponsor involvement in our local traditions. But we all agreed that Children’s Hospital was worthy of the exposure and support. Without getting into specifics, there were choices made that didn’t feel organic or conducive to our local culture, but the parade was a beautiful spectacle that moved through the French Quarter, onto Canal St. and down Saint Charles Ave.
Seeing all the smiling kids on the route was one of my favorite things about the Jingle parade and now it’s one of my favorite things about the Holiday Parade. The Pussyfooters debuted a new dance on the route and got applause from the crowd – which felt great! All of the dancers, marchers, musicians, baton twirlers, and more work for months to bring the crowds our best – so it feels great when people enjoy us.
The weather held out and the parade was wonderful, but the changes are probably best summed up in the Rudolph balloon. The Pussyfooters were near the front of the festivities so after the parade, we watched the rest of it roll. On Saint Charles, it immediately became apparent that there was an issue with using balloons in our city. Streetcar power lines run the length of Saint Charles so the balloons all had to be pulled to the ground to pass under the lines. As a result, many had to lay on their side to clear the wires.
When we got to Canal St., the giant Rudolph balloon was flying high and really looked impressive. But I kept thinking there was no way it would make it down Saint Charles. As the balloon turned the corner, they lay it on its side and held it low to the ground, but… Poor Rudolph was punctured and deflated. Apparently the snowman popped as well. Not everything about the parade was thought all the way through.
That said, we had an amazing day, the crowds were great, and I got to run into friends like Mad Men‘s Bryan Batt and meteorologist Margaret Orr!