New Orleans, LA - 02/20/2012

Published at 11:01 PM in , ,

Mardi Gras float

Today was our day to truly experience some of the Mardi Gras season.  We decided to rent a car, since the crowds would be so bad and the streets so narrow.  The car rental place had come to the base to pick Jim up, but we wound up having to meet him at the front gate.  I drove the RV while Jim went to get the car, so I had to off base to turn around and come back.  When I got back to the front gate, there are concrete barriers you have to weave around before you get to the guards that check IDs.  So I maneuvered around those and pulled up to the guards.  They both complimented me on my most excellent driving skills! I told them I'd driven to Canada and Key West, and that concrete barriers didn't scare me.  It made me feel good, though, because most of the time men give me a hard time about being able to drive the RV.

Anyway, we packed up snacks and jackets, for when it got cooler later, and headed into the city.  The car rental guy had given us several maps and good advice to get to the parade routes and finding somewhere to park.  It took us a good 45 minutes to get into the city and park.  The rental car was a little bitty Nissan Cube.  Since it is so compact it made it easy to park.  We wound up only being about two blocks from the parade route.

Decorated pony for the parade
We picked our spot to watch the parades, and met a very nice couple who filled us in on all things Mardi Gras.  They had both grown up in New Orleans, and lived in a nearby suburb.  They have the same traditions for parade watching every year in New Orleans.  If we decided to watch parades tomorrow, we were armed with the best information to catch three parades right in a row.

Catching trinkets

The first parade of the afternoon was one that had been postponed from Saturday due to the weather.  It was done by the Krewe of Tucks.  There were some really, um, interesting floats.  The riders were costumed, as well.  They tossed out all sorts of things: the standard beads, plastic toilets, little friar tucks, and printed rolls of toilet paper.  Their theme was Tucks get culture, but I have no idea how that related to the toilets and toilet paper, unless it was all poking fun.  We had a good time getting things from the floats.  It was really different from any other parade we had seen!

At the parades

The second parade was Proteus, by the Krewe of Proteus.  It is the second oldest krewe in New Orleans, and the floats still use the original chassis from the 1880s.  These floats were much more elaborate, as well as the costumed riders.  Since it was late afternoon into evening, the riders seemed to be in a more 'festive' mood.  They were throwing out lots of neat things, and we definitely enjoyed ourselves.

Wagon wheels of the second oldest krewe floats

After this parade ended, there was another scheduled to start, but it was getting pretty dark, and people seemed to be getting rowdier, so we decided to call it a night.  It was a great Mardi Gras experience.  On our way back to the RV park, we happened upon a Wal Mart, and we stopped to pick a few things up, since it would be our last opportunity until Wednesday.  Mardi Gras is a city-wide holiday in New Orleans, and most businesses are closed.  This particular Wal Mart is on a parade route, so it would definitely be closed.

Another parade view

We haven't decided exactly what we want to do yet, so be sure to check back here to see what we did!

More pictures in the Photo Gallery.

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