The major float parades during Mardi Gras are the ones you see on television, the giant, motorized parties that toss beads to the crowds along the route. But all around the city, people are holding their own marches through their neighborhoods. This year, we joined in with the Societe de Ste. Anne.
In New Orleans, membership in most parade Krewes is a major commitment, stiff dues and an entrenched hierarchy provides order to their acts. The krewe known as Societe de Ste. Anne, takes the extreme opposite view and their parade is an explosion of color and creativity open to anyone who wants to take part.
The St. Anne parade started 50 years, in 1969, at the height of the counter-culture movement. Residents of Bywater and Marigney wanted to protest a city ordinance to ban walking parades in the French Quarter and they gathered their creative friends to make their best costumes and march anyway. The tradition took off.
This year, a band of roving skeletons on foot and bicycle beat their drums and called out to us as they passed our house on Burgundy St. well before 8am. “Happy Mardi Gras!” they greeted to roust neighbors out of bed. Time to don your costume and walk to the rendezvous points where friends meet to admire their costumes, drink Bloody Marys, beer or coffee, and get ready to march.
By 9 am, hundreds of people, dressed in the most imaginative costumes, from the traditional Cajun dress that is worn mostly in rural areas…
To the male peacocks who struck their stuff every year.
The parade kicked off with a group dressed in gold, walking to the sounds of the Storyville Stompers Brass Band. A float and festoons of ribbons wove in and out as they walked.
More and more people joined the flow of celebrants as they walked through the Marigney district and by the time they reached the French Quarter, the streets were overflowing with color and good cheer.
Take a look at this video to get a flavor for the day: