Mardi Gras 2009

Old Mar 4th, 2009, 09:43 PM
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Mardi Gras 2009

'Visited for the day prior, of, and after. I understand why NOLA has a love/hate relationship with too much of a good thing, but enjoyed it all thinbgs considering.

Not Recommended:

(1) Booking late. Though hotels were not a problem (there's a Motel 6 and others a quick 10 minutes NE of the city), I could not get a 25K-mile freebie on USAir into NOLA itself, and wound up flying into Mobile, AL (MOB), where several of us were stranded without the cars we'd reserved on-line. All the carriers were rolling the overbook dice; this in the city where Mardi Gras was actually born, at a small airport that all but shuts down early at night. The only reason I got a car was because the last lucky customer didn't want a jeep or minivan (at economy rate) and threw a fit after two hours.

(2) Punching Jackson Square into your car GPS, which won't account for all the one-way streets, immobile drunken tourists looking skyward (for beads - what else?), sober tourists being pulled by mules, or the residents who actually live and park in the centuries-old Quarter when possible. Many guides cite the Square and its info centers as a good place to start, meaning the rest of the year; these are closed Fat Tuesday and the Monday prior.

Recommended:

(1) Unless you want to be at the start of the parades in Uptown, punch in Decatur and Esplanade to look for the folks running their own parking lots. Write down the cross-streets where you parked, so if you don't make it back to these darker areas early, you can easily wave down a cab, of which plenty run.

(2) See mardigrasneworleans.com or other sources for the parade routes. Not every krew takes the same final route, though they generally follow St. Charles at least up to Lee Circle. While some people might pre-book their spot in the stands with Ticket Master (you can't pay your way in the day/night of), there's something to be said for the freedom to move from block to block. In fact, on Monday night the parade surrounded crowds on Canal while making a U-turn.

(3) I've seen the event universally panned here for people urinating, flashing, and otherwise behaving lewdly. Yes, you'll find that in certain areas of the Quarter after the night parades, where our future leaders will wave, scream, and more to catch beads from balconies, as if they were manna from heaven - truly a disturbing sight this-side of Sodom or Gomorrah. The parades don't run through the Quarter though, and in fact, come in two varieties on the big day: the gorgeous, stately floats, and the less ornate busses sporting light-hearted themes (the N.O. Saints, country music, 'doctor is in, Hands Helping Hands, etc.) that lend themselves to a more kids-friendly tone. In a sense, you-get-what-you-look-for defines Mardi Gras here and the city overall.

4) While jazz is piped into several restaurants, catch some live stuff - not just the talented street performers, but at the clubs, most of which take Fat Tuesday or Ash Wednesday off. Best perhaps is the rather unassuming Preservation Hall, a club on the corner of Bourbon and St. Peter where I relished finishing my FT with the numbers from my jazz class tapes from college - i.e., the real deal.

- CDN
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Old Mar 5th, 2009, 01:47 AM
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Excellent report - and thank you very much. Considering you were dealing with the biggest party days of the year what did you think of the city itself?
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Old Mar 5th, 2009, 03:25 AM
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Thanks for posting your trip report, cdn. Visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras is on my "bucket list", so I appreciate the information.

Robyn
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Old Mar 5th, 2009, 07:36 AM
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That's a nicely thought-out and well-reported summary of your experiences, and it pretty much reflects the reality I have come to expect. As an original Louisiana native who grew up when Mardi Gras was still a much more respected, and respectable, celebration, when kids could sit on the curb and catch beads and not be molested, I have likewise become numbed to the madness of those few days. New Orleans is a wonderful city with a history and tradition that are hard to beat, and for the most part it is a place I still want to visit any time I can. But frankly, I just avoid Mardi Gras lately.
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Old Mar 6th, 2009, 01:17 PM
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Just FYI Mobile, AL still has the tamed down version of Mardi Gras.
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