It felt like it’s been forever, but Mardi Gras celebrations finally took place in New Orleans throughout January and February. The annual celebration, which precedes Ash Wednesday, had been canceled in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic and large numbers of cases in the city.
People from around the region were out and about in the beautiful weather to participate in the revelry around the festivities. While the number of tourists didn’t match the 2020 celebrations, which were held just a couple of weeks before the country essentially shut down due to the rapid spread of Covid, the hospitality industry saw numbers not seen in two years.
Parades throughout the area were in full effect the final two weekends leading into Ash Wednesday. Paradegoers were treated to homemade throws, marching bands playing great music, and various marching krewes dancing to music from all genres. It was, to say the least, a welcome reprieve from two years of stress over the Covid pandemic.
Several celebrities made appearances at different parades, but the stars of the show were the riders with the signature throws that revelers anticipate throughout the parades and the marching bands and krewes that are a staple of the various parades.
The riders were having a blast throwing out items they bought or even decorating themselves to give the lucky person who caught the item a unique piece of Mardi Gras.
I caught a shoe from Muses, a grail from King Arthur, sunglasses from Iris, and a coconut from Zulu, all decorated with love. Those prized possessions will be on display in my home year-round like so many people do around here.
From the all-female krewes like Cleopatra, Iris, and Muses to the coed ones of Freret, King Arthur, and Orpheus to the all-male krewes of Rex, Endymion, and Bacchus, there were parades that appealed to everyone in attendance.
Marching bands from junior high school all the way through college accompanied the floats while various dancing krewes and schools filled out the route. Parades last a few hours each and it is common to see some of the same bands and krewes marching several times throughout the season.
On top of the crazy fun of the parades are the costumes. People in New Orleans love a good reason to dress up and the celebration brings out the best of the best. My group of friends marched in a parade the first weekend that celebrates wine.
We dressed up as rock stars: my husband and I were Axl and Slash from Guns n Rosé while our friends were Moetly Cru, Rhone Jett, Devino and Bruce Syrahsteen, and Patti Sangria.
The celebrations continued throughout the next two weekends as we caught parades, impromptu dance parties, and concerts while making friends with new people along the route who lived just around the corner to miles and miles away.
While many people watch from the streets along St. Charles Avenue, I was lucky enough to have access to a riser along the route. This allowed me to see the floats and marching bands come up towards us and also gave me a great view of the floats.
The common thread of the celebrations amongst those of us local to New Orleans is that we are all out of “Mardi Gras shape”. With no festivals or events over the past two years that are so common in the city, we aren’t used to walking, dancing, and standing around for hours like normal. But that’s ok. Because you have to start somewhere and what better place than the fun that always happens during Mardi Gras.
I do want to give a special shout-out to the artists behind the floats. They were absolutely beautiful this year and it’s clear that a ton of time and effort was put into the creations.
Now we rest up for the next parade for St. Patrick’s Day.
Then it’s on to the many festivals that are making their first appearances in the city since 2019, including the famous New Orleans Jazz Fest. There is never a dull moment in this city and it’s great to see it alive and festive again.
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