Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Color Me Mardi Gras! It's Carnival Time- Part 1

Having chosen to make Halloween as my first visit to New Orleans, I thought I was prepared for my second trip to the Crescent City which would be during the peak of Carnival season.  Stepping on the plane on a dreary Seattle day in February, blanketed by dark grey clouds, it was as if a technicolor metamorphosis had transpired during my flight.  I emerged in a city that was literally dripping, wait, oozing of color-- much like the sugary frosting on a King Cake.  Late February in New Orleans was-a-bustin'-all-over in PURPLE-GREEN-'n-GOLD and that signified that it was CARNIVAL TIME!

On its own, sans-Carnival season, NOLA is a pretty colorful city as is.  A walk down Freret St. in the Uptown neighborhood will leave you in awe as you witness one after the other of non-cookie-cutter-like buildings.  Much like the blending of the many distinct cultures that meld together so seamlessly in this town, the different styles of whimsical architecture and clashing paint colors, work together like a quodlibet musical piece.
May I note that the Louisiana sunshine and blossoming magnolia trees further heightens the optic experience of taking in a late morning stroll in NOLA.

But wait!  There's more eye-candy up ahead!  'The City that Care Forgot' most certainly cares about its art- and right down to the minivan, thank you very much!

Even those creepy dolls glaring through the window in an antique store on Magazine Street have a certain 'je ne sais quoi' about them...
The two-fer deal was a little hard to resist, but no, I did not return to Seattle with one of these little dollies.  I'm too old to play with dolls, silly!

But I digress.... let's get back on track, err the sidewalk, in this virtual walking tour of NOLA.  It's Carnival Time and the terror-inducing thoughts of those dolls vanishes as I continue on my jaunt, admiring the painted windows decorating the local shops & cafes wishing passersby a Happy Mardi Gras!

And the windows weren't the only thing decked out in Mardi Gras marvel!  On every front door hung a Mardi Gras wreath, the trees were sheathed in Mardi Gras ribbons, and beads-bead-beads dripped from front fences and branches!

The only other time I've ever experienced a full display of color and decoration in a town is during Christmas.  As I continued my foot travels throughout NOLA, I gathered that this city placed the utmost priority on Carnival season and Mardi Gras.  Just take a look at these opulent house decorations below and it will put your neighborhood Christmas displays to shame!!

And even the 'silly' house decoration would mock your Christmas light display.  Complete with Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal scarecrow effigy.

And that's what I love about the Big Easy.  They sure do have a big sense of humor.  Hey, if you don't have a blow-up Mardi Gras Jester for your front yard, why not just paint your building in Mardi Gras colors?!!  ...or better yet, light it up!

But perhaps you're a member of one of the infamous Krewes, the organizations that spend an entire year coordinating their parades and balls during Carnival and Mardi Gras.  Tile the bathroom darlin', raise a banner, and wave your flag!

And make sure you represent by showing your Carnival pride!  I don't doubt that each New Orleanian has a significant amount of Purple, Green, and Gold in their wardrobe!

NOLA and its people may be festooned in Mardi Gras regalia, but there are other signs that the city is in the throes of celebration.  The buses are spreadin' the word, the Mardi Gras ladders are out staking coveted spots on St. Charles Ave. (a main parade route), the newspaper forecasts the daily parades, parade traffic laws are enforced.  Grab a few special Mardi Gras brews from the corner store and a piece of King Cake, then step right up to the curb to claim your space to watch the many parades because....


PS-- Thanks for taking my virtual tour of NOLA during Carnival.  This post is just the 'icing' on the King Cake, if you know what I mean.  I took 400 pictures during the 3 full days I explored the city and I've got a few more posts lined up-- so stay tuned!  The party's not over yet!!

PPS--  Before I forget, I should define the significance of the Mardi Gras Colors.  
Purple stands for Justice, Green stands for Faith, and Yellow Stands for Power!  Read more about the origins of the colors here.