New Orleans Mardi Gras, more than a parade

Published 11:03 am Monday, March 3, 2014

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NEW ORLEANS — Friday evening at about 6 p.m. in Vicksburg, five brave souls — four human and one canine — boarded their trusty vessel, a 2012 Nissan Pathfinder, and headed 200 miles south into the heart of darkness, debauchery and shiny beads known as New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
I, your trusty Post Photographer, was lucky to be among those few making the trek to the Crescent City. Armed with a camera and a strict set of instructions to “not run any pictures that were too embarrassing,” I began my effort to document said trip.
Also on the manifest were Vicksburg natives Dan and Emily Muirhead, my main squeeze Lindsay Unland, and, of course, my best friend Captain.
The plan was to head to Covington, La., where we would meet up with friends and stay the night before heading to Mandina’s, a restaurant on Canal Street, Saturday to eat, drink, and await the 48th Krewe of Endymion parade which rolls through Mid-City New Orleans.
Saturday we awoke right on time at the crack of noon, dressed ourselves in our finest Mardi Gras camouflage of yellow, green and purple attire and set forth into the wild.
The trip across Lake Pontchartrain and into the city was treacherous, fraught with peril and people peddling “Huge Beers,” but we finally arrived safely to Mandina’s. We promptly found what was most likely the last remaining parking spot in all of Mid-City, and sat down to heaping plates of fried seafood, gumbo and crawfish etouffee.
The parade began in the early evening and the good times rolled on into the night, with ever more interesting floats, people and goodies showing up.
Endymion boasts a krewe that rolls more than 2,700 deep, begins in City Park, winds its way through the heart of the city and finally ends at the Superdome. This year’s theme, “An Evening at the Opera,” was seen in the floats, beads and collectibles throughout the parade.
For Dan, the experience of Mardi Gras in New Orleans is what makes it stand out above other parades.
“The difference between New Orleans Mardi Gras and anywhere else is that it’s a different experience than just being at a parade,” he said. It’s an all day event, you eat and have a good time and take it all in.”
Between the “atmosphere, food and costumes” Emily enjoys the theatricality of Mardi Gras.
“It’s more than a parade, its a production,” she said.
The night wore on and it all finally had to end. Trash and broken beads littered the streets, and we made our way back across the lake.
Sunday morning we awoke, ate a heaping brunch, loaded up on king cakes to remind us of the good times had, and headed back to the sweet home Vicksburg.
While the lights and costumes and beads fade into our memory, there’s always the promise of next year to look forward to.
“I don’t think any other parades can captivate you like a Mardi Gras parade,” Dan said. “You’ve got so many sights and sounds coming at you, it’s bigger than just a parade.”