Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Hey Ya'll…That's how the locals say "Hi". I have had the most wonderful adventures in Louisiana. Thanks, Ian, for sending me to Grandma and Grandpa Rylatt. They took me to Mardi Gras Parades, I helped to build the float for their parade and I rode on Mardi Gras day (also known as Fat Tuesday) in the Elks Orleans parade in New Orleans. Oh, what fun we had!!

 

Boy, do you have to get there early to get a good spot!! Grandpa says we should have gotten up at 4:00 AM so we could get to N'awlins (that's how they pronounce New Orleans down here) to get a spot up front, the better to see and to catch beads. But, Grandma said we were sleeping in and going later. Of course Grandma got her way, so we were later than a few others and we didn't get quite up front. We still had a great time and were able to catch lots of beads and stuff.

Here I am with my new friend, Erica. Look at the beads I have around my neck. If you go to Mardi Gras, you have to wear beads.

Here's Grandma Rylatt and another new friend of mine, Janice. We're waiting for the parades to start. It was a beautiful day, the temperature was about 70°. It’s a lot warmer here than in Wasilla.

Finally the parades begin! I was so excited. Just look at all the people. They come from all over the world for the sights and sounds of Mardi Gras. And the beads, of course. It's all about the beads.

This is the Queen of the Krewe of Iris, the first parade I saw. She gets to keep the costume she has on… can you believe that. But that isn't anything compared to what I saw later…

This is one of the floats in the Krewe of Iris Parade. Look at the beads on the side of the float. We were just begging to have them throw us "somethin", see Grandma's hand. Grandpa and I were hollering "Hey pretty lady, throw me somethin". You can't tell very well from the picture but these floats are 2 stories tall.

Here's a pretty lady throwing me something. I caught lots and lots of beads and stuffed animals this day. What fun!!

Here I am watching a float go by. Now I'm beginning to get very excited. It's a bead thing, I guess. Everybody hollering and screaming for beads.

The second parade was the Krewe of Tucks. They had floats too but I liked the puppets. Cool, huh. They're Dragons, and they move like they're alive. You have to pretend the man in the picture isn't there. He's the operator.

If you like horses, there were plenty to see. Every parade had several different groups of horses and riders.

Here I am with Janice and Grandpa. See the beads around their necks. Our collection is growing. Most of the beads we catch we put in bags, cause they get heavy around your neck.

 

After the Iris and Tucks parades were over, we had a 4 hour wait until the beginning of the Krewe of Endymion. This is the parade everyone is waiting for. They are known as a "Super Krewe." That’s because of their size and the elaborate floats they have. Many of their floats carry as many as 300 riders and are so long that they are in two sections. They don't throw two or three strands of beads at a time, they throw dozens at a time!! WOW!!! A couple of years ago a friend of Grandpa's who rides in this parade threw a whole bag of beads. About a thousand strands. These guys don't mess around!!
The crowd more than doubles for the night parades.

Remember the Iris Queen? This is only one of the Endymion Maidens. Yes she also gets to keep her costume and head dress. I'll bet she had to build an addition onto her house just for a place to keep it.

 

This is one of 37 floats in the Endymion Parade. Each one was different. Their theme this year was "Saturday Night at the Movies the Sequel" This float shows characters from the movie "The X Men 2."
 

Every year the Krewes choose a new theme and re-build their floats accordingly.

This was one of my most favorite floats. Do you recognize the character? That's right, it's "Spider Man!!"

This is a Prince of Endymion. Check out the lights in that head dress. I wonder what his electric bill is??? Do you think he wears that to the movies? During Mardi Gras, he might.

This is a real coal fired steam powered calliope. The guy in the back stokes the fire and the guy in the front plays music. You don't see one of these every day. Actually, this is the first time I've ever seen one. You can't see them, but it's being pulled by horses!

Sunday, the day after the parades we were up early and off to help put the finishing touches on our own float. The weather forecast was for heavy rain on Monday and we wanted to get everything mounted and operational and covered before the rain. The forecast was for rain on Fat Tuesday. I was worried the float would be ruined. We had put so much hard work into it so far and the chance of rain was not making me happy. I was beginning to worry a lot when Grandma and Grandpa told me to think positively and things would work out for the better.

Well, here's the completed float.
In the front is a giant bobble head (actually it's the whole body) Jack in the Box, behind him is the title board with stuffed bears, suckers and airplanes. Next on top of the "out house" (got to have one of those) is a mountain with a castle and a train going thru a tunnel in the mountain. It rotates. Next comes a pair of rocking horses, that really rock and lastly a giant bottle of bubbles that rotates and blows real bubbles. Everything on the float we made ourselves. Nothing was store bought. All toys children play with. Hence the title, "Childs Play."

Here I am with Grandpa. The two rocking horses were made by him. They're actually old spring mounted rocking horses he covered with different colored foil. There is a lot of detail and it took him 4 days to do both horses. The hair on the doll below us was Grandma's idea and she put it on.

Here is a close-up of the jack-in-the-Box on the left and below is another new friend of mine, Mr. Gary. He made the train, castle and mountain. A splendid job, indeed.
He and Grandma work together at the Louisiana Department of Transportation.
 

Here I am with Mr. Gary again with the locomotive. The smoke is cotton glued to a piece of wire. Looks like real smoke, doesn't it?

Here's a picture of part of the train and me.

Here's what the train and mountain looked like on top of the "house."

Well, we completed the float on Sunday and covered it under a tent we made to protect it from the coming rain by 10:00 p.m. that night. Grandma, Grandpa, and I went home to wait for Fat Tuesday and our parade. We were dog tired!!
It began to rain hard late Sunday night and continued all day Monday and into Monday night when we went to bed. It was looking like we would ride in the rain, or not at all.
"Think positive!" Grandma kept saying. "Think Positive!"

This is our official 2004 Mardi Gras picture. That's me sitting on top of all the beads we caught at the parades on Saturday!! The loot is piled on top of cases of beads Grandma and Grandpa bought to throw at our parade tomorrow. We counted and bagged what we caught except for the really good stuff, which we kept, and added them to the others just to make sure we have enough to throw. You don't want to run short! -- because then you have to set down and be quiet!

It works! It really works! Thinking positive, I mean. When we got up at 4:00 am to head out to the float there was no rain! It was real cloudy with a little mist and wet everywhere, but NO RAIN!!!
Grandma sure knows what positive thinking can do. No rain!!

Yep, that's me ready to ride in a Mardi Gras parade on Fat Tuesday down St. Charles Ave in New Orleans, LA.
Am I excited or what? You bet I am!!

Here I am with Grandpa and I'm ready to ROCK! Let's get this show going!!

Here's some of what I saw from the float. What a fun time I had. Mardi Gras is totally COOL!!! Lots of BBQ cookers, food and plenty to drink...

 

This picture says it all at Mardi Gras. Some people catch something and some don't. The young boy, I'm sure, did catch lots by the end of the parade. Just not this time.

 

 

Every Krewe that parades during the season has a signature throw, something unique to them and them alone. This year we found a small plush Jack-in -the Box that matched our theme, Childs Play. The big Krewes usually have their signature throws special made to order.


The first Krewe to roll on Fat Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. is The Krew of Zulu. They are a very old krewe, dating back to 1916. They make what is considered THE throw of all Mardi Gras. That is the Zulu Coconut. It's a real, hand painted and hand decorated coconut. They still have the milk inside! They are VERY difficult to get because you have to be right up front to get one. They hand them to you. They no longer throw them for safety reasons. If you get bonked on the head with one of those babys, it's off to the hospital with y'all! Also they don't make that many coconuts.
Grandpa and Grandma have a friend, Robert, who gave us 2 beautifully decorated Zulu coconuts as we were riding in our parade. He just came up to the float and handed them to Grand Pa.
Here are a couple of pictures of me with these beautiful coconuts.

I can't thank Ian enough for sending me to Louisiana. I have had the BEST time ever. What fun and what wonderful sights I've seen. However it will be great to get back home to my classmates and friends in Wasilla, Alaska.

One last picture. We were all so excited when the parade began to roll that Grandpa forgot to take a good picture of this years head pieces and bibs. So here they are. All the sequins are hand applied and the little jack in the box bobbles. By the way...WE won FIRST PLACE in the judging competition. This is the 4th time in the last 5 years and the 3rd year in a row that Grandpa and Grandma's float has been in first place! It's good to be No.1!! One last thing, the women make the costumes and the men make the float and the kids help wherever they can. It's a family thing. A winning combination, "for true", as they say down here.

See Y'all Soon,

Stanley "Flat Stanley" Lambchop

 


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