Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Mardi Gras in New Orleans, LA…
Having traveled all over the USA the past three years we have been actively whittling away at our bucket list. This trip to New Orleans we will be able to take one more item off the list with our first ever Carnival/Mardi Gras. We are staying at Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego Louisiana just a short 10-15 minute drive from the Algier’s Point Ferry.
We left for the Ferry early in the morning and parked near the boat dock in a private lot for $20.00 for the day, which is indeed a steep price but they are getting it during Carnival. The once free ferry over to the Aquarium on Canal Street is now $2.00 per person each way. Once we were off the Ferry we walked around revisiting some of our favorite New Orleans spots but eventually staked out our place in the “neutral ground” to watch one of the many Carnival parades.
The one we wanted to see was the Okeanos which was named after the Greek God of rivers, Okeanos. There are so many different parades each with their own history and tradition but this is one that still resembles the older style New Orleans parades. It is a good, old-fashioned, traditional parade that inspired us to join in with the Mardi Gras spirit. I should mention here that each of the parades is affiliated with a Krewe, or a group of people who support and fund much of the parade and the “throws”(stuff like beads, coins, toys, etc.) thrown by costumed characters riding on each float. Okeanos was founded in 1950 and with more than 250 male and female riders, it is known for its elaborately costumed captain and king.
The parade had hardly gotten started when a New Orleans Police Officer walked over to Sharon and put a large set of beads over her head. That did it… Sharon was hooked on getting more throws or as we later found out she was now a “Bead Whore”! There were other parades following Okeanos but we opted to instead walk about and look for one of our friends who comes to Mardi Gras nearly every year. He is part of the KOE or Krewe of Elvis which is the only Krewe formed by people who connected virtually on-line. Going by the nickname Loopwhole we found him where he said he would be at the Bead Whore party.
Others like our friends that come year after year know all the ins and outs about which events are more fun or unique than others. As a result Krewe Parties such as the Bead Whore Party are something the average tourist might miss. What a hoot it was to see our old friend and even more fun was meeting many of his fellow Krewe members I even got “glittered” by the Glitter Girls!!! Lots of these people hail from all over the world and meet up here (mostly in costume) for a week of good fun and good camaraderie and maybe a little debauchery…
We left our friend and our new friends for a stroll along Bourbon Street just at dark to take in all that is Mardi Gras… the crowds, the excitement, the drunks, the flashers, the body painted ladies, the costumed revelers, and of course the “BUB” as it is called. That is the liquid that flows along the gutters. The locals call it BUB as it is likely composed of Booze, Urine and Barf. Fortunately early in the evening there isn’t any BUB and we planned to not be on Bourbon Street once it started flowing..... YUCK!!! Professional Mardi Gras visitors will bring an old pair of tennis shoes to wear and then throw them away at the end of Fat Tuesday!
After our stroll down Bourbon Street we meandered over to watch one of the Super Krewe Parades called Bacchus. Actor Hugh Laurie of “House” TV fame was crowned Bacchus XLIV and led this parade on the first float. Their theme this year was “Bacchus Salutes the Seven Seas.” Hugh Laurie began tossing beads at a more frenzied crowd than we had previously encountered at the earlier parade, maybe alcohol was involved. There are some people that would seemingly kill for some of these glitzy “Chinese Made” products…
Bacchus is one of a few of the super krewes with over a 1,000 members and their parade of 31 animated super-floats makes it one most spectacular krewes in Carnival history. Bacchus is of course the Greek god of wine and this parade has had many celebrities in the past including Raymond Burr, Bob Hope, Dom DeLuise, Charlton Heston, William Shatner, Kirk Douglas, and even Dick Clark.
We left after about 2/3’s of the parade had finished and made our way back to the Canal Street Ferry which took us back across the river. We got into our car and drove back to the state park maybe with a few too many beads and throws… Nonetheless we were able to scratch another item off the old bucket list and Yes!!! we had a total blast!!!