Days Don’t Always End During The Weekend Before Mardi Gras
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Saturday extended into Sunday for many people and then into Monday, one day before Fat Tuesday, as the wild bash that is Carnival careened headlong toward Mardi Gras.
The French Quarter was noisy well into the night, but police reported nothing out of the ordinary despite crowds whose spirits were revived when nearly two weeks of rain ended.
Eleven parades rolled Sunday in and around New Orleans. Seven stepped off in the suburbs and four, culminating with the glittery Bacchus blowout, in the city itself.
Pat O’Brien’s was noisy and crowded at 11 a.m. on Sunday, an hour after opening, said bartender Russell Tusa. ″There are three bars in here. The bar I’m at, I’d say there’s about 50 people,″ he said.
About 45 to 50 people stayed at Molly’s At The Market, a bar at the other end of the French Quarter, until it was closed at 7:30 a.m. for a one-hour cleaning, said owner Jim Monaghan.
The day began cloudy and cool but dry. Police said the turnout was light for the day’s first parade, given by the Krewe of Thoth.
With two days left before Mardi Gras, the last day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the solemn Lenten season, 11 parades were scheduled in and around New Orleans on Sunday. Seven were scheduled in the suburbs and four, culminating with the glittery Bacchus blowout, in the city itself.
For Linda Poirrier, the problem Sunday was figuring out how to get past the heavy steel barricades on the street to get closer to the trinkets thrown from the parade floats.
″It used to be more fun before they had these here,″ she said. ″The whole crowd would get right up next to the floats and be asking for stuff.″
She acknowledged that the barricades probably made Carnival safer.
″But we managed all these years,″ said her daughter, Diane Croal, 27.
The Krewe of Thoth started the parades on Sunday, but the Krewe of Venus took a different route to historic St. Charles Avenue and got there first for the long strut down to Canal Street, which borders the French Quarter.
″This is the smallest crowd I’ve ever seen at Lee Circle,″ said Dr. Sidney Bullard, 65, out with his daughters and their families. ″Maybe they’re worn out from Endymion.″
The Krewe of Endymion’s 44-float parade, led by Kirk Cameron, teen-age star of the television series ″Growing Pains,″ drew 12-deep crowds of people screaming to be pelted with plastic cups, cheap plastic beads and shiny aluminum doubloons Saturday night.
Two parades are scheduled Monday and 19 on Mardi Gras.
Bacchus, run by business executives and designed to bring crowds onto the street before Mardi Gras, has always had a celebrity as its king. This year, it’s William Shatner - Captain Kirk of the ″Star Trek″ television show and movies.
″Bacchus is anything you want him to be. And I want him to be wild and woolly and to have a great time,″ the actor said.
For Shirley Hardy, Sunday began at 6 a.m. She lives on the route taken by the Krewe of Thoth, and she and her husband, Clive, have been giving Thoth parade parties for about 20 years.
She got up early to put a roast in the oven and make other final preparations for the 120 or more guests who come each year.
″I don’t do any elaborate food. I have a roast and a ham and some smoked turkey and cheeses. I’m making a potato salad, making a spinach dish,″ she said. ″And our friends bring things.″
Mrs. Hardy said she and her husband used to go to every parade in the city except for Bacchus. Recently, she said, they have been going to see only Thoth, Proteus, which rolls the day before Mardi Gras, and Rex - one of the oldest of the old-line society parades and the one which, by tradition, carries the King of Carnival.
Why not Bacchus?
″We just don’t like it. It’s just too glitzy and too many people. It’s not really New Orleans Mardi Gras.″