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Rock Star for a Day Part Two

Me!  My favorite day of the whole year!

Me! My favorite day of the whole year!

In part one of the post, I talked a little about why it is fun to be on Krewe of Endymion.

This is part of a series of posts describing what it is like to ride in the biggest parade at Mardi Gras.

The fun starts long before the parade!

Endymion is a Saturday parade. The actual parade starts around five pm, takes in a bunch of New Orleans, and finally hits the Superdome at around eleven pm. This IS Endymion to the hundreds of thousands of spectators who come to see this “super parade” in action. For Krewe of Endymion, it is a wonderful all day Saturday affair that starts at ten am and ends at three the next morning. The events of this wonderful day both before and after the parade itself make it my favorite day of the whole year.

For Krewe of Endymion the fun actually starts months before the parade with various activities, dinners, and balls that help plan the event and elect leaders.

Your dues are paid, beads and other “throws” are selected and purchased. If you are out of town, arrangements are made to stay in New Orleans for this wonderful party.

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On the Saturday morning of the parade, we all meet at a good restaurant.

The last two years it has been Burboun House on Bourbon Street. The food there is fantastic and it is an open bar for us. Starting at ten am, we meet up with all of the riders of our float and have a great lunch, catch up with what is going on and laugh, curse, drink and share in some great guy comradery.

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We usually roll out of the restaurant at noon with bellies and brains full of food and booze.

We walk out onto Bourbon street wearing our parade costumes. This is where Rock Star for a day actually begins. Walking Bourbon, costumed for Endymion, is like being royalty. Everyone along Bourbon wants a picture with us. Old men and women, great families, and oh yes, the ladies. It is very cool to get your picture taken with parade Krewe (lucky us). We meander down Bourbon causing commotion the whole way, wandering into establishments to stay boozed up lest the wonderful buzz of the day come to a premature end.

Float Captain James Moises Recaps the Rules

Float Captain James Moises Recaps the Rules


Next on the bus to our floats.

Here we get a last minute recap of rules that we have heard so many times before. It would not be Mardi Gras without this re-hashing of what not to do! A couple of the rules that get emphatically mentioned every year are; One, once the parade starts do not throw your first beads until the float captain does, thus signaling the beginning of the parade for your particular float. Two, and very, very important, do not at any time during the parade take your mask off! The charm and mystique of Endymion dictates that the riders are officially anonymous. Friends and family of riders can easily pick out their rider on the float though. After the rules recap, distribution of sandwiches, and other last minute details, we arrive at the parade site.

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Instead of the bus dropping us all off at our floats, which are at City Park, we are dropped five or six blocks away.

This is one of my favorite parts. We walk in costume, beads in hand, mildly intoxicated through a wonderful neighborhood near the park. There are thousands of people lining the streets. Some have been there overnight to get a good spot just to watch Endymion Krewe walk to their floats. There is music and tents and barbecues. It is easy to find an encampment of folks that you don’t even know, sit and have a sandwich and beer with them. Everyone is so friendly. After partying on the walk with families, beer and fun, it is off to our floats. Just as you hit the edge of the park, you suddenly get a feel for how HUGE Endymion actually is. The floats line up from one end of the park to the other and wrap around back to the beginning. They are behomoths and very colorful. The whole park is a sea of riders, marching bands, mounted police and droves of spectators.

Once you find your float, nineteen B in our case, you climb aboard and start prepping your area.

The spot you stand in is approximately four feet by four feet. At the beginning of the ride most of this space is taken up with beads beads beads. If you stack them very carefully, you can make yourself a small foxhole to stand in. There are hooks at head level in your cubicle so that you can have some beads pegged and ready to throw. Even though there are many pegs, they will hold maybe one percent of your beads at a time. As you are making ready, families and friends of riders are constantly making their way to the floats to wish us well. We drink, smoke cigars hang out and wait until finally the word is out, the parade has started! Due to its large size and number of floats, it may be an hour before your float starts moving.

coming soon part three
see also Pics from Mardi Gras 2009


PMW-EX1

Video edit that starts with some shots from St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, plays through to some Mardi Gras from last year then ends with more St Thomas and a little bit of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. It is a year old. It has never been posted here so from that standpoint it is still new!

Look for more HD video in the coming weeks.

Mark


Rock Star for a Day Part One

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Few things in life deserve the title “Rock Star for a Day”. Being on Krewe of Endymion is one of those things.

Once a year, New Orleans, Lousiana hosts the biggest US Mardi Gras Party. This annual celebration triples the population of N’awlins from 500,000 people to 1,500,000 people. Mardi Gras or “Carnival”, as it is called, is one giant outdoor blowout. New Orleans measures the success of Mardi Gras each year by the tonnage of trash that is produced.

An essential part of the MG experience are the parades. These exhibitions range in size from a single flat panel truck with a dixieland band, to a super-parade with more than a thousand riders or Krewe. Endymion was founded in 1974 and is one of the two parades at Mardi Gras that has earned the category of Super Parade. Endymion has over 2400 Krewe. A quarter of a million people line up the along the route of Endymion, some families setting up their annual ‘spot’ 18 hours before the parade. Endymion draws the largest crowd at Mardi Gras.

Now a little about the Rock Star part

Perspective from the crowd

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Watching a parade at Mardi Gras, the crowd chills along the route and watches as marching bands, baton twirlers, mounted police and other parade participants go by. When a float goes by everything changes. Suddenly the mob goes wild. People are screaming at the top of their lungs and waving their arms madly. All the while trying to entice beads from the riders on the float. They are jumping up and down and trying to make eye contact with the riders to collect all important beads, doubloons, cups, frisbees, teddy bears and footballs. After the float has passed, the revelers go back to chillin with their friends. Patiently waiting for the next chance for treasure….

Perspective from the float

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If you are on Krewe of Endymion, the whole perspective is from the float. You stand in a four foot by four foot cubicle. Your beads stacked up around you to your waist, leaving a small foxhole you can barely stand in, let alone move. There are thousands of people constantly in your field of view as your behemoth ride meanders through the streets of New Orleans. The crowd is ever changing. they are whipped into a frenzy, yelling at the top of their lungs, waving ther arms wildly and trying to get you to throw beads. Even though there may be a thousand people in front of you at any one time, you can pick anybody from the crowd and make eye contact with them. You can easily pick any one person from the crowd and reward them with beads or other throws

see part two of the article