The final frenzy of Carnival began today, with four big Uptown parades, and visitors from out of town flowing into the city. As is our custom, we’re holed up in our downtown headquarters, hitting the street to bring you a grass-roots view of Mardi Gras, from parades to wildness in the French Quarter. Along the way, we are filing remote audio blog posts to bring our readers closer to the action.
Thousands of parade viewers had staked out their spots along the sidewalk bordering the French Quarter, but with the floats still at least an hour away, the mob was pouring in and out of Bourbon Street.
The Canal Street “entrance” to Bourbon Street is dark, bounded by a dimly lit restaurant to the right and a shoe store to the right. Moving into the darkness, guided by a caucaphony of drum beats, saxophones, tap-dancers and crowd noises. The weirdness began immediately, with a street vendor selling beads from beneath a tall sign touting Cameras and Toilet Paper. Beads, Cameras and Toilet Paper.
Too much going on to give that much thought.
Bourbon Street is very crowded, a lot more people than there have been since Katrina. As crowded as Mardi Gras day itself last year to my view.
The usual mob of bead-flingers was roaring from the balconies at party folks on the ground. I’m wearing my big tricorn hat and a black leather trench coat, and I’m getting continual calls of “AAAARGGGHHHH”, as well as a few “The British are Coming!” And more to the point, I’m getting beads. Arrgh!
Heading back to the parades soon . . . they’ll probably be rolling until midnight at the Canal end.