We are moving into the big New Orleans Mardi Gras Carnival Weekend. There were parades last weekend but starting on Thursday the 12th with the rolling of the Krewe of Chaos and Muses, things really take off and build with respect to the size and ornateness of the floats, the variety of throws and the increased size of the crowds. It is so hard to describe what it is like to watch a parade and the thrill of the visual spectacle. The big weekend parades all roll at night along St. Charles Avenue which is just a block from Sully Mansion. Streetlights provide halos of light against the backdrop of the gaslit Victorian mansions of the Avenue and men walking the parade route with six sconce torches (they are called Flambeux) provide additional illumination as your eyes are drawn to the floats and the masked riders who throw all types of trinkets for the crowd.
We usually camp out on the same corner every year, along with friends and neighbors and friends of neighbors who come and go, sharing drinks, dancing to the marching bands and walking dance troupes and sharing the bounty of the throws from the floats. When it is wonderful, a kind crowd mentality takes over, we all pull each up on to the curb when a large marching band of ten across and tubas come by, share the coveted throws which comes flying out from the floats and may bounce off the fingertips of the person in front of you into your arms. We have affixed lawn chairs atop our eight foot ladders so while we are in prime catching position, you cannot lunge for something coming, falling right outside your grasp. It is a night-long party and you make new best friends with the parade watcher standing next to you. When it is over, the last marching band has passed, the lights of the floats are seen in the distance rolling their way towards Canal street. You fold up your chair, lug your bag of beads and head home for the next night and the next parade.