Mardi Gras Mambo in High Gear in New Orleans
The Mardi Gras Mambo is in high gear in New Orleans, which expects a record tourist season since this is the latest Fat Tuesday in 150 years. The late date makes the holiday, based on an ecclesiastical calendar, coincide with Spring Break guaranteeing that hotels are sold out and the streets are teeming with revelers. The only dark cloud over the Mardi Gras Mambo festivities so far is a day of thunderstorms canceling many of Saturday’s parades and moving the Endymion Super Krewe to March 6, following the Krewe of Bacchus.
Bacchus royalty is Andy Garcia; and Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa are the king and queen of Endymion with Bravo TV's Andy Cohen as a Captain.
Orpheus, which rolls on March 7, was founded by New Orleans-born entertainer Harry Connick, Jr. and celebrity monarchs this year are actors from the HBO series Treme.
In addition to parades, French Quarter marching clubs include Krewe du Vieux; Krewe of Cork celebrating wine and pouring glasses along the route; Mystic Krewe of Barkus an all-dog parade; and Divine Protectors of Endangered Pleasures (DIVA). The official kickoff to Mardi Gras in the French Quarter is the greasing of the poles at the Royal Sonesta, which is exactly what it sounds like. For 41 years, local luminaries have coated poles supporting the hotel’s balcony with petroleum jelly to ensure revelers can’t climb up for Mardi Gras, and a crowd cheers for the winning celerity greaser.
As with most things New Orleans, it has now turned into a party with media coverage. This year, a throng gathered in the rain to vote for their favorite pole greaser. Very few innuendos were missed by the emcee as the competition geared up. Mardi Gras historian Arthur Hardy; musician Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, and Saints Owner and Executive Vice President Rita Benson LeBlanc presided over the soggy festivities in high spirits. Leroy Jones’ Original Hurricane Brass Band performed through the rain.
Carnival season in New Orleans is ever evolving, and the all-female Krewe of Muses included a record number of marching krewes this year. It’s a way to participate with lower membership fees and without the expense of throws. Krewes included the Camel Toe Lady Steppers, the 610 Stompers, Pussyfooters, Rolling Elvi, The Priscillas, Cameltoe Cha Chas, the Bearded Oysters, Unicycle Troupe; Big Easy Roller Girls; and The Godivas. Also featured were Susan Cowsill, Sue Ford and Pink Slip singing soul songs along the entire route.
Fat Tuesday marching clubs include the Krewe of St. Anne which parades from the Marigny down Royal Street. The most traditional of parades is Rex, the King of Carnival, which rolls after the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club on Mardi Gras Day. Louis Armstrong reigned as King of Zulu in 1949, fulfilling his childhood dream.
“Down in New Orleans where the blues was born, it takes a cool cat to blow a horn" - Mardi Gras Mambo.
Posted on March 6, 2011 by Karen Beninato