I’ve ridden in the Endymion Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans for four of the last five years. The year I skipped turned out to be the Mardi Gras immediately after Katrina, which I heard was, understandably, quite subdued. When I first went as a guest, I joined in on some existing traditions and I have continued to participate in them since then. After my second ride as a guest — in 2007 — I decided to become a member. This is actually the reason I rode last year despite the overall plan to go every other year (my spot for next year has, in fact, already been sold).
One part of these traditions is that we do not stick around for Fat Tuesday, opting instead to head home on Sunday. But we make the most of our time there, which usually starts on Thursday. I previously gave a rundown of our traditional events and I posted pictures a couple of days ago. So in this post I will instead focus on specific things that happened rather than giving an overview.
The Miconic 10 elevator system
Other than a moment of confusion, this isn’t too bad — unless there’s an open elevator, or even just people waiting, the first time you encounter this. What happens then is that you walk onto the elevator as normal and then get this really confused look on your face as the door is closing and you are realizing that there are no floor buttons. There are some LED screens by the door that show which floors the elevator will stop at — which most likely doesn’t include your floor.
Obviously, this happened to me, and I’m tired of writing in the third person. I got off the elevator at the first stop thinking that I this elevator just didn’t service my floor. I had yet to realize that there was a system and just figured this was an express elevator and that I needed to go back to the lobby and get on a different elevator. Conveniently, a couple came to the elevator right then and explained the system to me, so I was able to go directly to my floor. The best part was probably that the couple was older and the woman was thrilled that she got to explain technology to “a younger person.”
I’d say there are a few issues with this system, though some of these are just things that aren’t fixed by this system. An example of that is when there are more people wanting to go to a given floor (like the lobby) than will fit on an elevator. As long as the elevator is this complicated, it seems like it ought to have an additional facility for determining when an additional elevator would be needed. The other issue is that, at least to me, it gave the impression that the system was optimized for something, but not necessarily for the individual riders.
We managed to visit Crazy Johnnie’s twice on this trip. Once for lunch right after we arrived, and then again on Saturday morning for our traditional pre-parade lunch. I love this place, though I’ve had a bit of hit-or-miss results with the steak. I had the prime rib on the first visit, for the first time, and it was delicious. The Remoulade, on the other hand, is to-die-for. The atmosphere is perfect for our pre-parade gathering (around 20 people, probably).
I’m surprised I didn’t mention breakfast at Mother’s in the Coronation Ball trip update, but we went again on Sunday before leaving town. I think Mother’s is a great place to go, but this year was the first time we went for breakfast. Wow, what I was missing! The Crawfish Etouffee Omelet is amazing. The Shrimp Creole Omelet is also pretty good, though not quite on the same level. One of us also had the recommended Black Ham and Swiss Omelet (and Mother’s is certainly proud of their ham, as attested to by their sign in the image at right), and found it to be nothing special.
Kid RockI’ve never really listened to Kid Rock — I couldn’t name a single song — but he was sure fun to watch at Beans & Jeans. We weren’t at all close to the stage the next night at the Extravaganza, and we called it a night soon after he took the stage (long day), but I did enjoy the few songs he performed while we were there. He was preceded on stage by REO Speedwagon, whom I found to not quite sound right. I presume it’s just their age affecting their voices.
Humorously — at least to me — after walking back to our hotel several of us went back down to the lobby for about an hour, mostly for Internet access. We were disappointed to find that the hotel bar was closed even though there were tons of people around. Oh, well.
People, massive numbers of people
Riding in a Mardi Gras parade is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Someone described it as “facing a huge, hungry bead-eating monster that is never satiated” and I would add that it clearly enjoys every bite. It’s a blast and the hours (and tens to hundreds of dozens of strings of beads, per thrower) fly by. Highly recommended.
(Clicking on most of these images will take you to a larger version in my photo album.)