Monday, February 15, 2010

Running for Mardi Gras

Okeanos Queen Martha Elizabeth Dart at Gallier Hall with sidekick

Yesterday was a real workout. After what for me was an unusual night of at least four hours of sleep, I awoke to prepare myself for the challenges of being the announcer for four day parades at Gallier Hall. Being prepared is a bit of an understatement. No matter how well I held up my end of what was needed, I was still dependeent on lots of external factors and other people to do what had to be accomplished. After finding a parking spot within three blocks of Gallier Hall, I walked the ten blocks to the hotel where the Queen of Okeanos' mother was hosting a special breakfast in her daughter's honor. All of the royal maids of Okeanos and their mothers were smartly attired in dresses or suits. Each maid donned an attractive hat. The queen, Martha Elizabeth Dart, was resplendent in a white suit with a crown symbolizing her reign. The limousines carrying the royal party had a bit of a problem. Because the four parades needed motorcycle escorts to their respective staging areas, the New Orleans Police Department's Motorcycle Division was hard pressed to provide a full escort until after the 10:00 a.m. start time. As a result, we had to "buzz" the parade route on the way to the uptown staging area, making our way through Carnival crowds already camped out on Napoleon and St. Charles Avenues. Two stretch limousines, which were in reality converted SUVs, carried the maids, a male escort and yours truly in one and the mothers and the captain of the krewe and a female escort followed behind in the other car. The police did a great job getting us to where they thought the beginning of the parade was, but it soon turned out they didn't know where they were going. We got within a block of the start of the parade and I stopped the caravan, grabbed a dozen yellow roses intended for the king's float and ran like the dickens for three blocks bouquet in hand. After handing the flowers to the aid on the king's float, I ran back to the waiting limousines, while the officers conferred as to what route would get us to the reviewing stand in time for me to announce the parades. I marvel at my breakneck speed in making it through the obstacle course of people and parading units. A bit out of breath, I waited for another two minutes while the motorcycle escorts and the drivers figured out a suitable side street on which to turn. These stretch limos were quite long. Finally I made a suggestion and off we went. As it turned out, we made great time getting back. However, by the time I got into the stands, the Knights of Babylon parade was already at Gallier Hall. It took a bit of running up the marble stairs and negotiating through the crowd, but the toast from the city to Sargon XLV went off magnificently as my adrenaline kicked in yet again. The parade, rescheduled from Thursday night's rainout, passed by in rapid order due to the fact they had no marching bands. It seemed to be less than ten minutes in length from the time of the toast to the time the trailing police and fire department units were passing the reviewing stand. It was then time to announce the arrival of the royal party. I called out each maid's name and her parents and introduced the Queen of Okeanos, Martha Elizabeth Dart, to my announcer's booth. After the captain's wife was introduced, all of the mothers of the maids were allowed into the mayor's reviewing area. Within a few minutes the 61st parade of the Krewe of Okeanos winded it way to the former New Orleans City Hall. The theme "Okeanos Asks: 'Will You Be Mine?" was an obvious homage to Valentine's Day The Krewe of Mid City followed right behind with 18 bright and dazzling floats decorated in alumninum foil of many colors. Another parade and another two toasts to the 2010 king and queen. Finally, the crowing achievement of the day came about when the impressive Krewe of Thoth, the second largest Carnival krewe behind Endymion passed in review. It was a huge parade with 42 floats in total and the theme "Thoth's All Mixed Up," a tribute to libations and potent potables like the White Russian, Margaita and Fog Cutter. The final toasts were done by recently re-elected Councilperson Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, but the parade seemed to last forever. It was a great day for Carnival, but I must admit I was plain tuckered by the time that the Krewe of Bacchus was set to roll with Drew Brees as its celebrity king. Brees was picked to be Bacchus several months ago when the Saints were still undefeated and when a Super Bowl win was still an unrealized dream. It was the third parade Brees has been in since the win last Sunday in Miami. He was in Orlando at Disney World for their parade on Monday, in New Orleans for the Super Bowl parade on Tuesday and, following stints on the Ellen Degeneres, David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey shows managed to get back in town to portray the Roman god of wine. Meanwhile, I am ready for the Greek god Morpheus to take over. Sleep...sleep...sleep.

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