We’re a few hours from the dawning of Mardi Gras 2011 and there are signs of life after Mardi Gras. Once the police chase the last celebrants off of Bourbon Street, it is time to prepare for Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten Season. But this year, Ash Wednesday is closely followed by St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Day celebrations. And this year, we’re talking days, not weeks.

Irish Channel St. Patrick's Parade, March 2008.

And the events come fast and furious. On Saturday, March 12th, the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Parade winds its way through the Garden District. It features Mardi Gras-style floats and trucks. And in addition to beads and traditional throws, the crowd can catch cabbages, potatoes, onions, and carrots – yes, every vegetable you need for your St. Paddy’s meal. And the following day, on the other side of the 17th Street Canal, Metairie hosts pretty much the same thing.

Later the following week, on St. Patrick’s Day, the Downtown St. Patrick’s Day winds through the Bywater and French Quarter. It is a more intimate parade, marked by pit stops at local watering holes. A great event for people watching and throws, but there’s not a cabbage to be found anywhere.

Italian-American Marching Club, March 2007.

Two days later, on March 19th, is St. Joseph’s Day.  One hundred years ago, Italian immigrants turned the French Quarter into “Little Sicily” and St. Joseph was their patron. St. Joseph’s altars are set up throughout the city in churches, restaurants and bars. And that night, the Italian-American Parade hits the French Quarter. And of course, it is also the night that the Mardi Gras Indians process through the African-American neighborhoods of New Orleans.

"Super Sunday," March 2007

To close the week (hopefully) is “Super Sunday,” the day the Mardi Gras Indians process for the rest of us. Early indications are that it will take place on Sunday, March 20th, but I am skeptical. Weather and other circumstances can lead to its postponement. And I never trust the date until the Mardi Gras Indian Council confirms it.

Nevertheless, I will be ready.

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