This category was a real surprise. At a time when krewes would have an excuse for rolling out  mediocre parades they seemed to be prettier than ever. The competition was tight but Hermes stood out with what might have been its most attractive parade lush with colors and shimmying in the right places. My opinion was not alone. Where I watched the parade, on St. Charles near Gallier Hall, spectators were marveling at just how spectacular the parade looked. Other handsome parades were Orpheus (always one of the most attractive), Proteus, Babylon, Thoth, Mid-City, and Rex.

We are now in the Golden age of parade satire with Muses, Chaos, Le Krewe d’Etat and, to a certain extent, Ancient Druids as well as Tucks all presenting the tease. As the recovery crawls, and as politicians get in trouble, the news has certainly been rich with satire-worthy material. Le Krewe D’Etat did it best this year on the strength of its rich caricatures. One float, showing Mayor Nagin in a recliner sipping a drink with the caption “The Mayor’s Position” was a classic. Chaos was a respectable second. Tuck’s “Girlfriend Gumbo” float was certainly the naughtiest. (You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.)
With all the miscellaneous Saints players and rock stars scattered throughout the parades, no one had a better presence than James Gandolfini as Bacchus. Gandolfini, best known for his role as mobster Tony Soprano, has now played a Godfather and a god. As Bacchus the wine god he showed us what it would look like if mob bosses were mythological bosses by wearing a fedora instead of a laurel wreath and puffing on a cigar instead of nibbling on grapes. He was quite a spectacle, but, please, Tony, we mean no disrespect and if you think otherwise, forget about it.
We’ll call it a tie between Rex’s lunar theme and Endymion’s imaginative Endangered and Extinct theme. Both allowed for innovation and both were insightful in their own way.

No float den was hit as badly as Mid-City’s S. Murat Street location, yet the krewe has persevered- losing a few floats, restoring others. Then on the Tuesday before Mardi Gras the Mid-City den was hit by the high winds and swirls during the night of the tornados- a den door was knocked open; the captain’s float was scuffed. Yet the krewe continued, presenting a dazzling parade with its one of a kind eye- catching foil look. Hang in there guys- better days are ahead.

Special recognition goes to Zulu which, despite having to gather in the wee hours of Mardi Gras morning, started and moved on time. Eliminating extraneous stops for toasting helped and so did combining some floats as tandems. Whatever was done it worked and Zulu made the day more palatable for everyone, including its riders.
Muses remains as the hottest parade in Carnival. It has expanded female participation in parades and added innovations including its many specialty throws. No parade has a better, and funnier, mix of marching clubs than Muses. One can almost look past the floats and laugh at groups such as the Rolling Elvis, the Ninth Ward Marching Band and the Bearded Oysters. But the floats are something to behold too, My only suggestion to Muses is that the floats had too much message to digest and they rolled by rather quickly. A very professional looking comic book tossed from the floats was supposed to help explain the theme, but someone would have head to read it beforehand to understand all the message. The humor is good and creative, it is just that when the medium is a float it has to be digested quickly. Nevertheless Muses remains as one of the major stories of the modern New Orleans Carnival. We’re already anxious for next year.

Mardi Gras next year is ungodly early, Feb. 5. That means that Bacchus will be on Super Bowl Sunday. That happened a few years ago but then no one would seriously consider the possibility of the Saints being in the game. HOWEVER, what if the Saints make it to the big game? And what if they win! When will the victory parade be? Usually they are held a day or two after the Super Bowl but that would be Mardi Gras, Should the victory parade follow Rex? Or would we dare have a victory parade on Ash Wednesday? What to do will be quite a problem, but one I hope we will have to face.
Let us know what you think. Any comments about this article? Write For the subject line use MARDI GRAS REVIEW. All responses are subject to being published, as edited, in this newsletter. Please include your name and location.

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