02 March 2006

Mardi Gras 2006 - A Rider's Perspective

As a rider in the Krewe of Thoth, I was not sure what to expect from this year's parade. Because of the lack of police, fire and garbage collection services, our route was substantially shortened by starting the parade at Magazine and Napoleon, instead of at Henry Clay and Tchopitoulas. However, all of the Krewe members I spoke with were very understanding and enthusiastic prior to the parade and we were all convinced that we would still have a great ride. Furthermore, many of us loaded up our floats with as many throws as last year and were ready for big crowds on the shortened route, if they came out to see us.

Any worries that we might have had about smaller or less enthusiastic crowds were quickly put to rest as we unloaded from the buses on Napoleon and walked to our floats. The crowds were thick, the sun was shining and everyone looked ready to have a great time. The ride was fantastic and the crowds appeared to be even larger than last year. Many families came out to enjoy the sunshine along the parade route and it was nice to see so many kids enjoying the parades. Surprisingly, even with the reduced infrastructure available in the city, the entire parade went off without a hitch and I, and my fellow Krewe members had a very memorable ride.

As I watched other parades through the rest of Mardi Gras, I was amazed not only by the very large crowds and their enthusiasm, but also by how well organized the parade infrastructure (police, crowd control, garbage collection) remained post Katrina. I was also happy to see so many of the same vendors, non-profit organizations (churches, schools) and individuals that provided services along the parade route back, continuing to provide these same services as if nothing had changed. Mardi Gras tested many key public, private and non-profit city services, and, although these services were primarily provided in a small area of the city that had little damage from Katrina, these services were sucessfully provided to very large crowds, comprised of locals and people from out of state.

From my perch on a float during the Thoth parade and as a spectator enjoying other parades and Mardi Gras day activities in the Quarter, Mardi Gras 2006 was a great success. Thanks to all who worked hard to make it possible, and to those that travelled great distances to be a part of the celebration.


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