Mardi Gras in New Orleans was reported to bring $322 million in economic benefit to the city.
That's a lot of money.
Over a million people visited New Orleans during Carnival, and hundreds of thousands crowded into the French Quarter on Monday and Tuesday. Tens of thousands more lined the streets on Fat Tuesday to watch the Zulu and Rex Parades.
Rather than attending these two parades (we had already seen Bacchus and Endymion and Proteus and Orpheus and others, and brought home two large bags of beads and stuffed animals that we caught) and take in the St. Anne parade that begins in the Bywater and courses down Royal through the Marigny neighborhood and into the quarter.
There you see the most creative costumes, only a few of which I will share. These photos are copyright, by the way.
There were many costumes that focused on death or dead people but this was by far the best.
Look at this young lady in training.
I never was able to catch what this group of marchers stood for, but two out of the group posed for this shot.
This was the banner that preceded a marching band that paraded separately from the others. Many costumes and groups parodied the religious groups that were in New Orleans crusading against "adulterers, fornicators, homosexuals, and revelers," among others.
This picture was actually taken in the French Quarter, but earlier these guys had marched with the others through the Marigny. Colorful, huh?
In the French Quarter the annual Bourbon Street Awards took place, and this event was the lead Mardi Gras story on the local news. The awards take place amidst the gay clubs on Bourbon, and while we didn't have a great view of the contest, I did get some photos.
The New Orleans police chief rode up to the stage on horse back, and got the biggest applause of the day, because of his department's support of the gay community, as noted by the emcee.
Q-Tip was one of the contestants.
This guy said it took several months to create this. He was featured on the TV news.
This was an interesting costume, but unfortunately I didn't get it all in the picture.
There is no way to adequately reflect the array of costumes. And no way to express how much fun it is watching so many people enjoying themselves; in the Quarter, on Frenchman, at the parades. I'll share more in the coming days about some of the uniqueness of New Orleans and the music and art in the Quarter.