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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Yes, Virginia, There IS a Mardi Gras


(click on the picture or here for some brief Quicktime parade silliness...note that the older woman in the video had, just seconds earlier, nearly wrestled a girl half her age to the ground for a string of cheap green beads...and won)

Interestingly, the dissenting voices re:"should there be a Mardi Gras" have been overwhelmingly non-local. Truth be told, it does leave a strange taste in one's mouth to be so overindulgent when there has been so much tragedy. Indeed, the concept of Mardi Gras in general may seem a bit odd to some, but many cultues around the world have a pre-Lent blow out in one form or another. What people don't understand is that Mardi Gras is as ingrained in New Orleanean culture as Carnival is to Brazilians, Carribeans and Venetians. Mardi Gras is most certainly NOT just a night of drunken frat boys and squealing co-eds flashing their boobs on Bourbon Street. It's two solid weeks of parades, costumes, concerts, dancing in the streets and family fun all across city and the surrounding area. This is not the Superbowl, people. Nor is it the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the 4th of July or even
New Year's Eve . It's much bigger and it's roots are far deeper. Mardi Gras is a big, fat deal.

Tourism is one of NO's main moneymakers. Tourism + Mardi Gras =$$$. Big $$$. Big desperately needed $$$. In the pre-Katrina days Mardi Gras generated millions for the city. This year? Who knows. This year the theme, however unofficial, seemed to be "New Orleans is Open For Business and Can Handle Tourism So Get Over Here, Already!".

Floats and parades are organized and run by various Krewes and social clubs. Aside from the permits, the government is not particularly involved. The big government involvment comes in the form of NOPD overtime costs, and those costs are quite high. Glad (as in trash bags) donated an unspecified six-figure sum to help defray those costs, and other donations from Krewes were added to that pot. Was it enough? I have no idea. Was money diverted from assisting Katrina victims? Please. I highly doubt it.

Anyone who has any doubts about what Mardi Gras really is, or what is really means to the people of New Orleans has obviously never been there.

Or they never got off Bourbon Street to find out.
posted by missbhavens @ 4:29 PM |


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