Happy Mardi Gras!

Living in New Orleans is like living in a foreign country. They even have a huge holiday that the rest of the U.S. doesn’t recognize: Mardi Gras, when all the businesses are closed and the city becomes one big party. We hadn’t planned to participate, but how could we not? Since last week, we’ve seen five parades, had beads thrown to us in the French Quarter, and seen flashers in Bourbon Street. Who knows what will happen tomorrow, on Mardi Gras day itself?

To get you in the mood, here is a little photo essay of our Mardi Gras experience so far. Check it out!

What a haul! Our first parade, Cleopatra, was a bit disappointing, but the “throws” were great! We came home with 21 pounds of beads, 5 plastic cups, a purple pig, and a 5-foot snake.

After taking our photo (above) New Orleans’ finest posed willingly (with Brian’s snake) on the other side of the camera.

Our next parade was Babylon. We parked ourselves across the street from the Pearl (the site of Margaret’s Dad’s first beer) and settled in for the real thing. Unlike Seattle parades, they do not have pooper-scoopers after the horses.

The King of Babylon. Pretty cute, and a lot happier than the Queen of Cleopatra. But then, it wasn’t raining on his many-thousand-dollar costume.

Babylon bead-throwers. I think somebody was flashing, because the guy in the middle is shaking his finger and going “no-no!”

The Chaos parade had more royalty, more horses, more bands, and funnier floats.

On Sunday, we wandered through the French Quarter. Bourbon Street was overflowing with people these guys could toss beads to, including plenty of flashers.

The biggest parade, on Sunday night, was led by Bacchus, also known as Elijah Wood or Frodo. He was having a total blast, like any 20-something kid, throwing beads and making eye contact with people.

As you can see from the hands, everyone in the crowd went crazy over the chance to get beads, cheap plastic cups, and the occasional stuffed toy or rubber chicken.

The Bacchagator was one of the crowd’s favorites. This was built on two flatbed trailers, so it was almost half a block long.

St. Augustine’s high school and their rival went head-to-head in a sort of “battle of the bands” on Canal Street. This student’s whole family went nuts, including his father and uncle, both alumni.

By 10:30, some of the junior high marchers were getting a little tired.

But we were still having a blast!

On the way home, we took in some lovely Mardi Gras decorations and stopped for a midnight chat with a New Orleans native. Stay tuned for more after Tuesday!