Let me start out by saying that nothing that I write here can do justice to what I am trying to describe. You have to be there and experience it yourself. Last weekend my wife and I and two of our 40 something daughters went to New Orleans. We usually hang out in the French quarter, walk a hell of a lot, eat and eat, cafe du monde, and marvel at all the goings on in Jackson square. This time by chance we happened to have arrived in the city during the first week of Mardi Gras parades. Now my impression of Mardi Gras has always been unchecked debauchery, lots of titties and beads, and hedonism on steroids. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Nothing can prepare one for the magnitude of Mardi Gras. Parades are done by krewes. Most have a specific theme. While Jackson square we were swallowed up by the Krewe of wine. The people had been marching about the quarter in outfits with a big band being tipsy and happy as clams. They stopped and hugged me and asked where we were from, donated some beads and momentos and then moved on. Some of the costumes were hilarious. We thought we had finally experienced our Mardi Gras parade. That was only small potatoes So Saturday comes and our youngest has arranged our schedule to catch three parades on st. Charles. St. Charles st. Is in the garden district just across canal street from the quarter. The parade route follows a canopied separate four lane that is divided by the trolley tracks. Only one side is used but both sides are closed off. Rain was,threatening but people already had their folding chairs and stepladders with special seats for kids. The parades are lead by a locator car so you can follow every parade on an app. We found a great parking space, close to free toilets, and two blocks from parade route. So here they come. Sirens, police cars, bands, dancing troupes, horses out the ass, double decker as well as double trailer floats pulled by tractors throwing every kind of beads, toys, Knick knacks, and stuffed animals. Each band was from a different high school, with cheerleaders, with flag wavers, with dance troupes and all were huge. Mammoth speakers with rap music, generators. Military units. Motorcycle groups( my favorite was the caramel curves, 300 lb black mommas with beautiful hand made shoes riding the new versions of three wheelers, throwing beads and blasting music as they slowly moved the beef up the road). All the bands had adult minders all over moving the people back and giving the kids water and hoards of scuppernogs grapes. My daughters were jumping up and down and screaming for more beads. Each parade has special prizes that are coveted by onlookers. We got a small shrimp boot hand painted and full of special gifts from one parade. My wife and I cried uncle as the the rain became heavy but it did not dampen the spirit of the parade goers or our daughters who looked like drowned rats. Sunday came and the sun came out. We girded our loins for four parades along the same route. We started at eleven and quit at dark. The biggest was the krewe of King Arthur, 40 floats. We couldn’t carry all the loot.( when New Orleans recently cleaned out their sewers they recovered 96,000 TONS of beads). I just can’t get across the enormity of the whole venture. A local told us that no floats, bands, or participants work in any other parade. Everything and everyone is,original. This week the parades become bigger and more complex. When we were there the crowd was three to four deep, this coming up weekend they will be up to 15 deep. I don’t know how,they do it. Some floats are worked on all year long. We were done on Sunday, I could not have hung another day. There is so much to talk about. Google the krewes and get a sense of scope for yourself. All of Louisiana is in on this but New Orleans is the epicenter. I don’t care who you are, to not see some part of this event is to do yourself an injustice. To not see the thousands of kids blowing horns and beating drums is to miss the success of so many young people, it really is a mass of humanity. And it’s fun. Laissez les bon temps rouler.