To my current students (and others):

My dream is to create a January Term course on New Orleans street culture; the second lines, jazz funerals, Mardi Gras Indians, and participatory parades. But until then, I just get to enjoy the opportunities that present themselves during our spring break trip. And just to lay it out for you, here are the spectacles that await us.

Italian American Marching Club St. Joseph's Parade, March 2007.

Italian American Marching Club St. Joseph’s Parade, March 2007.

On the day we arrive in New Orleans, the French Quarter play host to the Italian American Marching Club’s St. Joseph Parade. The grand marshal of the parade is composer and actor Frank Stallone, Jr. (Sylvester Stallone’s younger brother). There will be plenty of opportunities for beads and kisses from old (Italian) guys.

Keep'n It Real Second Line, March 2012.

Keep’n It Real Second Line, March 2012.

The following day we can head up to Bayou St. John for the Keep’n It Real Social Aid  and Pleasure Club Second Line. The brass band has not been announced yet, but it will be worth following for a few blocks. For lunch, you’ll have your choice of po’ boys from the Parkway Bakery or grilled sausage or pork chop sandwiches along the parade route. Tough choice.

It’s rather quiet during the week, but on Friday evening we can watch the drunken block party that is the Jim Monaghan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It begins and ends at Molly’s at the Market bar on Decatur St. I’ve witnessed it a number of times and I question whether it ever really leaves the bar, but I can’t be sure. The published parade route suggests otherwise, but I am not convinced.

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

Irish Elvis, Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Parade, March 2008.

Before you all leave, I’d suggest hitting the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It’s the one I enjoy the most. It seems to have the most history. It takes place under a canopy of oaks along St. Charles Avenue. And it will give you a great send-off for the long trip home. And you’ll leave with plenty of green beads and more kisses from old (Irish) guys.

And if tradition (and the weather) holds, the day after you leave will be the Mardi Gras Indians’ “Super Sunday.” it is a shame you will miss it, but I promise to take plenty of pictures.