Posts Tagged New Orleans

Endymion 2011

Last Saturday was our annual Endymion Parade in New Orleans for Mardi Gras (technically, Samedi Gras). That is, it was supposed to be. A pretty severe thunderstorm blew in and the parade was delayed until Sunday night. The Extravaganza that normally marks the ending of the parade couldn’t be moved, and we still ended up riding the floats through the party. Thus, we actually had two parades: a short one Saturday night and a longer, though still abbreviated, ride Sunday night. Despite the shuffling, it will still a great time!

View from our balcony on Bourbon Street, Thursday night

Anderson Cooper on the Grand Marshall float

Kelly Ripa on the Grand Marshall float

Extravaganza crowd, screaming for beads!

Me - about to throw some beads!


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Mardi Gras

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

Key card for room, with elevator instructions

Key card for room, with elevator instructions

We stayed at the Marriott New Orleans (which offered free wireless in the lobby for four hours a day, but charged $15/day for in-room wired Internet access) where we encountered the first elevators I’ve ever used that needed instructions. Instead of an “up” or “down” button there was a keypad where you entered your floor number. A letter was then displayed on the LCD to tell you which elevator to board.

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.

Crazy Johnnie’s

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).


mothers-signI’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 Rock

Kid Rock dancing with The Zippers at Endymion Beans & Jeans Pre-Parade Party

Kid Rock dancing with The Zippers at Endymion Beans & Jeans Pre-Parade Party

I’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

Crowd of people along the Endymion parade route

Crowd of people along the Endymion parade route

Interior view of the Superdome at the end of the Endymion parade route

Interior view of the Superdome at the end of the Endymion parade route

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.)

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Mardi Gras Here We Come!

We left Austin this afternoon on our way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras weekend. More specifically, for the Endymion Parade on Saturday. This will be my fourth year to ride in this parade. As before, we will be returning home on Sunday rather than staying for Fat Tuesday — I’m sure we’ll do that one year, but I don’t know when.

We are staying in Lafayette tonight, which is just a couple of hours outside of New Orleans. This is partly to break up the trip and partly to save a little money as our hotel in New Orleans is much more expensive (as well as much nicer). A nice benefit is free wireless Internet access. I’m sure the Internet access for the rest of our trip will be far from free.

Tomorrow night is our Balcony Party. We have a reservation for a Balcony on Bourbon Street and we will be buying beads tomorrow afternoon. (We would have bought them when we were buying our float beads last month, but we weren’t sure we would have a balcony.)

Friday night is Beans and Jeans, which is a private party for the krewe. We have a lot of fun and then the Grand Marshall (Kid Rock) and the musical acts for the parade (REO Speedwagon) arrive and are introduced.

Saturday is the big day and is basically an all day (and most of the night) affair. The float ride is usually around five hours of throwing beads, starting just before dusk, but pre-parade prep actually starts around noon. The parade ends at the Superdome where we join the Extravaganza already in progress. The main acts usually don’t come on until well after midnight.

It’s. Almost. Time. To. Party!

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Endymion Coronation Ball

As I previously mentioned, we went to New Orleans this past weekend for the Endymion Coronation Ball. The trip was great and played out pretty much as expected. We left Austin on an 8:10 AM flight and arrived in New Orleans at about 11:15.

After picking up our rental car, we headed to the hotel to drop of the wives before meeting Randy, our local connection, for lunch and bead shopping. However, on the way to the hotel we decided to stop at a Arc to check out their Mardi Gras sale (based on a recommendation). It seems like a pretty good program they have going, employing intellectually disabled adults to help reduce waste by recycling beads.

The two of us that were there were buying beads for ourselves and four other people. Though I didn’t end up buying any for myself (I was too picky based on a disappointing experience last year), we did get half of the beads for Travis the other four. This ended up being a great time saver later in the day since these beads were sold in 30 pound bags. While Travis was dealing with these beads, I went ahead and took the wives to the hotel.

Next up, Crazy Johnny’s! I got my steak in the form of a wonderful steak sandwich — which I then realized is the same way I had it last year, though I was the only one to do so then and all three of us did so this year. Three people is the fewest I’ve been part of at Crazy Johnny’s; certainly a different feel though still wonderful.

After dropping of the Arc beads at Randy’s apartment, we headed to Beads by the Dozen to shop for the rest of our beads. I didn’t enjoy this as much as usual, and I’m not really sure why. Certainly the fact that they were out of some of our favorite beads didn’t help, but I think there was more to it. This resulted in not spending as much time there, which was probably a good thing as we ended up having less time to get things done than we expected. With half the beads for five people, all of my beads, and some beads for Randy, we had quite a number of boxes of beads to transport back to Randy’s and then transfer to bags. I’m not sure how long it ended up taking us, but by the time we were finished it was probably passed the time we really needed to head to the hotel to get ready for the Coronation Ball.

Food. Drink. Music. Dancing. Parade. Beads. Painted tattoos. Palm readings. It was a great party. Here is a selection of pictures from the event:

For lots more pictures, including higher resolutions of these and shots of our group, head on over to my Gallery2 Album.

Only three weeks ’til Endymion!

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Leaving for New Orleans

2007 Coronation Ball

2007 Coronation Ball

This weekend is the annual Endymion Coronation Ball in New Orleans. This will be our third time to attend (2005 and 2007 were the previous two) and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

The Coronation Ball is a black tie affair, though with a Mardi Gras flair, naturally. This means that I wear my tuxedo, but with a bow tie made of purple, green and gold beads. Let’s see, I must have a shot of that around here somewhere…. Ah, here we go.mardi-gras-tuxedo

We also take this opportunity to buy our throw beads for the actual parade next month. The parade generally lasts about five hours during which I probably throw somewhere on the order of 100 dozen strings of beads. And by no means am I a high volume thrower as I actually spend a good amount of time taking photos as well.

Boxes (and boxes) of beads to throw from the float

Boxes (and boxes) of beads to throw from the float

I really have a great time shopping for beads. Getting the boxes of beads to storage and then moving the beads from the boxes into bags to be loaded on the float is less fun. In addition to beads, we usually get a few stuffed animals and other trinkets to throw, which are always a hit with the parade-goers.

We usually also grab lunch on Saturday at Crazy Johnny’s, which is so, so good. I’m definitely looking forward to that — I hope we’re doing that this year.

I. Need. Steak.


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