Mardi Gras! (reprise)

My first post on this blog, in March of 2020, told about the last trip I took before the COVID pandemic closed things down. It’s worth another share, now that I have many more viewers and followers. I’ve included more photos this time.

My son, Adam, does ocean research and has been stationed for two or three years in various interesting small cities along the United States coasts. Planning my first visit to see him and Kristin, his partner (now wife), at his new post on the Mississippi gulf, we talked about what there is to do there. Mardi Gras! We dipped our toes into three festivals: Ocean Springs, Mississippi; the historic Mobile, Alabama version, first in the U.S.; and, of course, classic New Orleans, Louisiana. Everyone in the area had a four-day weekend; it’s the biggest holiday of the year.

Celebrations of imagination, creation, color, teamwork, and song! At each fete, trucks pulled floats, structures manned with bead and trinket throwers, alternating with uniformed marching bands and costumed dancers. The simplest, in Ocean Springs, on Friday evening, was a nod to the local: decorated and painted vehicles blaring popular music along the short street lined with hip shops. A rowdy group of young men waved two huge declarations of their identity and affiliation, a confederate flag and a Trump flag, our only brush with pointed politics in the parades.

Ocean Springs

On a quieter night

Mobile on Saturday turned out to be a good choice. Sunday’s festival in Mobile was themed in honor of the originator of Mardi Gras, Joe Cain, who dressed to ridicule Native Americans and honor Confederates, we learned. But Mobile was a welcoming city—downtown Dauphin Street with its sidewalk tables and bars, friendly fellow parade-watching families, and the best of the floats we saw all weekend. The parades started at noon and lasted into the dark of night. Our destination “krewe,” the Mystics of Time, included fantastical dragons, Dr Who’s Tardis, Father Time, and more characters and constructions than I could identify.

Around Mobile

Dauphin Street

Mobile Mardi Gras!

New Orleans, on Sunday, was, for us, more of an exploration of the city neighborhoods than just parade watching. Artists in the park, boats and bridges along the mighty Mississippi River, luscious oysters and creamy cheesy creole dishes, flashy boa-ed outfits and painted faces, brassy jazz bands on the march, shiny beads hurled from ornate wrought-iron balconies, the frenzy of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, and a mass of crowds to wade through on the parade routes. A woman was crushed the day before when she tripped trying to cross between tethered floats; a high school trumpeter stumbled on a barricade in front of us and Adam saw him careen head-first into the metal fence. (He was unconscious for a short time; a nurse appeared from the crowd and a policeman was summoned; and then he appeared to recover and was escorted off the road by emergency medical attendants.)

New Orleans

Art park
Adam and Kristin reading a menu
Musical legends
Blues band

Back in Biloxi, laden with piles of beads, we waited out the Monday rains. Kristin announced she would bring beads to the community college where she taught to give to students. On Tuesday, the actual Mardi, we skipped the festivities, hiking instead winding trails at the Mississippi Sand Hill Crane Reserve. The endangered birds, a variation of the long-migrating cranes, live in the wild open lands of the reserve year-round.

Sand Hill Cranes
On the bayou, Biloxi

Mardi Gras in the U.S. is very different from the Caribbean and South American Carnival. In 2006, Adam and I were invited to join Carnival in Trinidad, reputedly second only to Rio, by a New York couple, a cousin of mine whose girlfriend was from Port of Spain, the capital. That time we were active participants, dancing in the streets for days. Check out the blog for details and photos of that wild time!

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

34 thoughts on “Mardi Gras! (reprise)

  1. Loving some of the themes for the parade floats…themes which just give every opportunity for the creative mind to be…well….creative. Fiestas and festivals are such great things to be part of when travelling. You’ve had some rather exciting experiences of it, without doubt.

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  2. I’ve never attended a Mardi Gras parade, nor a Carnival one, of that matter; they’re ubiquitous in Europe, too, but I always seem to miss them on my travels…New Orleans has been on my radar for years of places to visit in the US, so one of these days, I’ll have to go (and maybe chance upon Mardi Gras)!

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  3. You’ve captured the atmosphere nicely, Ruth. New Orleans would be a dream destination for us to do a spell of digital nomadcy. The prices of living there long term are a bit challenging, but it’s a nice dream. I think I would lose myself in the music and history. Some lovely images, I particularly like those garland-decorated balconies

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    1. Thanks so much. I love wandering around the city, so much culture and charm, but the festival is a whole other thing. I don’t think I would want to be in those kinds of crowds again!


  4. Love the pictures! Mickey and I toured the warehouse where they store lots of the floats when they aren’t in use. It was so fun to see them up close, since we’ve not had the opportunity to see them during the Mardi Gras.

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  5. I just learned how Mobile, AL hosted the very first Mardi Gras celebration. Their floats are impressive, almost like something you’d see in the New Years Day Rose Parade. I’ll never forget “hearing” New Orleans’ Mardi Gras once. A friend was there on business, called me from a street near the French Quarter, and held her phone at arm’s length just so I could hear the powerful sound of tens of thousands of revelers.

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  6. I was in New Orleans on a regular weekend and Bourbon Street area was crazy then! I can’t imagine it during Madi Gras. I love the decorated balcony, I don’t know why but I didn’t expect the buildings to be decorated too! Looks like you had a great last weekend before 3 years of nothing😊 Maggie

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    1. NOLA is always hopping! You could hardly navigate through some of the streets during Mardi Gras. It was a bit scary once we heard that people had gotten sick at the event. A good reason to isolate after that! 🙃

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  7. This sounds like a fabulous time – a little of everything that also included some escape from the crowds, and some exploration of the towns beyond the festival. I’ve never been to the US southern states – perhaps one day I’ll go explore there.

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