Miraculously, my luggage was waiting for me when I arrived, as there was a lineup of bags just sitting next to the carousel. They must have been on the 11:00 flight, which surely landed before my flight did. Since my bag was waiting for me, this was truthfully the quickest I’d ever received my baggage after a flight. The cab ride to my destination was strange, as I rode through neighborhoods that were mostly unharmed by Katrina. I think I only saw three trailers, but I’m guessing that’s a heavily-skewed number that is more indicative of the comparative affluence of the neighborhood than the actual recovery.
I dropped off my luggage and met up with Craemer and Lindsay. After hauling in some futon mattresses to prep for the frat-like invasion of testosterone that would be soon to overwhelm Lindsay’s domecile, she dropped us off on Magazine St. Craemer and I went into Ignatius for a very late-but-I-don’t-care-because-I-came-here-to-grub-like-a-doomed-man-eating-the-last-meal-of-his-life kinda post-lunch chowdown. We drank Abita Restoration Ale and I had the crawfish etoufee, which was warm and buttery with a slight hint of spice, exactly what I had craved. We then moved on to the Hermes parade.
This was my first parade (and also the first for Craemer), and we really had no idea what to expect. With the temperature in the lower 40s it felt rather tropical (compared to 13 degrees). The air had that musky, smoky scent, and with the marching bands warming up, it really felt like we were in the midst of Fall. Craemer and I found a perfect spot on the corner of St. Charles & Napoleon. We had a newspaper dispenser to set our drinks on, and we had an unobstructed view of the action. It was ideal.
The high school marching bands were awesome. These kids are born with funk in their trunk. I think back to when I was playing Swan Lake in marching band while these kids were tearing the crap out of a Jay-Z tune. When the dancers started shaking their thing, and the batons started flying, well, it was badass.
Strangely enough, there is an old tradition where poor people called flambeaus carry these torch-like things in between the floats to keep the parade illuminated. They have some sort of fuel on their backs, and from what I’m told, the tradition is that people throw money at them, and then the flambeaus bend down to pick up the change. (My, how wonderfully degrading!) As the flambeaus would bend down, they would spill fuel everywhere and flames would fall across the street. As you might imagine, it felt incredibly safe.
A flambeau barely controls the flames. Photo by J-R.
Nothing can really prepare you for the floats. One second you’re looking at this amazing display and the next second you are being pelted with beads and dubloons. This catching the beads thing is pretty serious here, and people were diving and jumping for them, but by and large you needed to protect yourself. Beads were flying from all angles. Dubloons were being hurled. Frisbees were chucked, footballs thrown, and tons of plastic cups were hoarked from the top of the float. We quickly became skilled short-fielders, and we caught beads and cups left and right. I tried to take pictures, but it was too tough– the beads just kept flying. Cramer got drilled in the side of the face when he turned his head to look at another float, but he made a nice grab when someone tried to pelt him with an entire bag of beads. Oddly enough, the green beads seemed to be the hardest to find, so we made it our quest to get the green.
We covered ourselves head to toe until we looked like two gay Mr. T’s. What can I say? It was fun.