We went to parties, parades and more parades. Paul and Shannon live right on Napolean Avenue, one of the major parade routes, which has a fifty-foot wide grass-covered neutral ground (median) where everyone sets up tables of food, chairs, ladders and blankets to watch the floats and marching bands and yell for beads. There are other 'throws' from the floats such as stuffed animals, metal and wooden doubloons, etc. but for a lot of people its all about the beads. Some of the beads are good quality bling with great colors. I'm embarrassed to admit that my initial nonchalance quickly degenerated into jumping and yelling with outstretched hands, which over five days resulted in eighty pounds of beads that I dragged back to Santa Cruz for god knows what. No kidding, let me know if you want some!
The highlight of Mardi Gras for both Gail and I was donning our homemade costumes and marching with hundreds of people in the Saint Anne's Parade from the R Bar (for Royal Street) through the French Quarter. The mood was definitely high spirited and friendly as people in costume gathered in the street in front of the bar, laughing, drinking. and taking pictures of each other. The costumes were nearly all handmade, original and for the most part quite well done, some very elaborate and of award-winning caliber. After about two hours a critical mass was achieved and we set off down the street behind the band, which was surprisingly good and blasting away ferociously. Gail and I moved up in front of the band and danced, leading the parade for several blocks down Royal Street with scads of people on the sidewalks and second-story balconies shouting, throwing beads and having more fun than is generally allowed. It was a total gas!
We saw plenty of outrageous outfits, but virtually none of the outrageous behavior we'd heard about. Reportedly that's more of a tourist thing and we were mostly hanging out with locals and major celebrants. But they don't call it Fat Tuesday for nothing - though we weren't drinking ourselves, we felt amply debauched after five days of non-stop Mardi Gras activity, for as the saying goes, "You don't go to Mardi Gras, it comes to you!" Meaning, if you're anywhere nearby, it's sound, energy and vibration are inescapably intermixed with your very own molecules. We recommend it, as an easy lesson in surrender to a higher good!