Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras in the Quarter is splendid

I started Mardi Gras day by catching the Magazine bus going downtown and sat across the aisle from a couple of clowns. They weren't proverbial clowns - as in jerks - but a husband and wife dressed as clowns. She is a retired school teacher. They always do Mardi Gras dressed like that.

On the ride home, some five hours later, I sat next to the clowns again, all of us sitting in the exact same seats. Maybe we were on the same schedule, or maybe the Magazine bus came only once that afternoon because we also had the same driver. It sure seemed that way, as I waited for at least 45 minutes and had considered hitching a ride back uptown. Of course, parades came down St. Charles Avenue and onto Canal Street all day long, so it was challenging to get a transit bus through.

Even though the venerable St. Anne's parade starts forming at about 8 a.m., it doesn't progress very fast. When I caught up with it around 11 a.m., it had only moved about two blocks and was stalled at a Royal Street bar where people were milling about, admiring each other's costumes, and ordering drinks. Also, a wedding ceremony was taking place on a front porch - though only a few people noticed. I assume the couple met at a past parade. They were costumed, but not in traditional wedding attire. I wasn't sure about the minister. A young woman in a sequined outfit was dancing on top of a "float" of drums where she danced non-stop to the beat for the next several hours.
The Krewe of Saint Anne definitely has the best, ill-defined, costumes in all of Mardi Gras. Some people collect fragments all year long, then put them all together in inconceivable designs reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil. It seems to have supplanted the gay show as the most colorful and creative display on Mardi Gras day. There was a two-story tree and a giraffe. (Later in the day, I saw the folks perched in the tree accepting drinks from revelers on the balcony of the Pontalba Building on Jackson Square.) Creatures that seemed to have Avatar origins were in great supply.

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