In spite of my obsession with New Orleans, I have never made it Mardi Gras. A couple of years ago, I got there four days after the fact, but folks Uptown were still ready for the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It’s not the drunkenness or debauchery or “Girl’s Gone Wild” atmospherics that I miss; it is the cultural and social affects that I miss. The Zulus, the Mardi Gras Indians, the dogs in the Barkas Parade, and the neighborhood-centric goofiness of the St. Anne’s Parade. These are the things I long to see. And thankfully, nola.com provides me with photos and video to give me a glimpse into what those there are experiencing.
One of the things I used to put me in the spirit was the Times-Picayune’s JacksonSquareCam. Right now it probably shows people milling about and getting their palms read in the plaza between the Cathedral and Jackson Square, but during Mardi Gras it was abuzz with costumed revelers. And even from the distance of the camera, some appeared threatening and many of the rest, just plain weird and/or scary.
However, many of the photos and videos put on display by the Times-Picayune really capture the history and culture represented by Mardi Gras. And yeah, people are still having fun. Among my favorites, i.e. the ones that help me experience the celebration from afar:
The Skull and Bones Gangs — For some reason, these guys terrify me; however, there is a beautiful photo collection of the Northside Skull & Bone Gang waking up Treme on Mardi Gras day.
The Mardi Gras Indians processing in Treme under the I-10 overpass. I’ve seen it on St. Joseph’s Night, but not during Mardi Gras. One day. Here are photos and a video.
One of the things I’d most want to experience is thew history and tradition of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, 104 years old and going strong.
The Mardi Gras Day reopening of Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-in-Law Lounge by Kermit Ruffins.
To witness the neighborhood spectacle that is the St. Anne Parade that stumbles through the Marigny.
OK, I have to finally admit it. I have found a krewe that surpasses the 610 Stompers: the Laissez Boys Social and Leisure Club.
And, finally the ceremonial NOPD sweep of Bourbon Street at midnight after Mardi Gras.
I love it from afar, but one day I will actually experience it.