The biggest Mardi Gras Indian party of the year went down yesterday in New Orleans Central City neighborhood.
The Scrumptious crew rolled out bright and early to make sure we would not miss one moment of the party.
After knocking back a few shots from the rolling cocktail vendors we got down to the business at hand:
Pictures. Running, jumping, squatting and working hard to get the photos through the enormous crowds that had gathered.
The most beautiful part was that there were dozens of cops and they were admirably exercising restraint. Had this event been in Austin, Texas there would’ve been dozens of arrests.
The air was thick with weed smoke and there were countless entrepreneurs selling cocktails off ad hoc liquor bars.
A dj set up on a street corner blasting Li’l Wayne, Boosie Badazz and Run The Jewels. Obligatory twerking was righteously scandalous.
The crowd was totally diverse. Well, there were Black and white people by the thousands anyway.
There were scores of food trucks many of which were hastily converted vans and pickup trucks where folks had rigged up hot plates off car batteries and were selling barbecue and ya ka mein.
A.L Davis Park, hard up against the parade route, was part of the party but was being largely ignored as everybody wanted to get down in the street.
You couldn’t walk 10 feet without somebody trying to dance with you, give you a beer or try to sell you a catfish po boy.
The sun beamed down and New Orleans in all her glory rose her face to the heavens.
The Mardi Gras Indian tribes arrived stealthily and from all angles of the city. We quickly learned to be ready to break into a sprint to get to the new arrivals before they were completely mobbed up.
When we first arrived the crowd was light, perhaps two thousand people, as the day progressed thousands more thronged into Central City til it eventually felt like the entirety of New Orleans was there.
It is amazing how much alcohol and food you can consume when you really put your mind to it.
We’ve been to hundreds of street parties over the years and the food on offer at Super Sunday was as fine as anything we’ve ever seen.
There was fried catfish, smoked pork shoulder, grilled oysters, “ghetto burgers”, turtle soup, ya ka mein, pralines, hot sausage wraps, alligator balls, steamed boudin links, cotton candy, oysters on the half shell, nachos, candied apples, collard greens, baked chicken, yams, onion rings, deep fried Snickers bars, ice cream and we may be leaving something out.
One of our favorite New Orleans traditions is the roaming cocktail bar. Generally an entrepreneurial sort will load up a Radio Flyer wagon with a few bottles of bourbon, vodka, gin and rum then take to the streets to hawk mixed drinks. We lost count of how many of these men there were at Super Sunday.
We never saw a fight and nary a shot rang out.
Outsiders may scoff but in New Orleans, when we get a few thousand people together there is often gunplay.
We take the bad with the good here because we live in the greatest city in the USA.
It took a couple hours but some brass bands finally showed up and we all started started dancing in the street.
Is there a finer way to spend a Sunday afternoon than dancing on a blacktop street under a blue Louisiana sky?
Most people spend their entire lives without ever seeing a Mardi Gras Indian in person.
If you were fortunate enough to be in New Orleans yesterday you saw a spectacle that could only take place right here in Louisiana.
We wondered if the rival Indian tribes might clash.
And frankly would’ve been wild with delight had they.
But the olden days of Mardi Gras Indians meeting up for violent clashes are no more.
Once upon a time, families would never be caught at a Mardi Gras Indian parade.
Parents did not want to run the risk of their children getting injured when fists and bottles started to fly.
You could spend a lifetime studying the suits/costumes of the Mardi Gras Indians.
Each one tells a story.
The making of the suit can take a full year.
And cost thousands of dollars.
Many suits weigh in excess of one hundred pounds.
You have to be in good shape to be an Indian chief toting a hundred pounds on your back with the mercury skyrocketing and the humid New Orleans weather closing in like a giant wet glove.
Even by New Orleans notorious debauched standards Super Sunday is a raucous affair.
We regularly roll through Central City but it was nice to be out of the van and on foot breathing in the neighborhood air.
Appreciate it now for as we all know with the new money rolling into New Orleans the current version of the storied neighborhood will soon vanish.
You only have to drive down nearby O.C Haley Blvd to see what’s coming.
There, brand new retail along with restaurants is shouldering onto a street that’s been on hard times for decades.
But, one of the most beautiful things about our city is the glacial pace at which change comes.
Our next opportunity to see the Mardi Gras Indians will be on Saint Joseph’s Day later this week. No one seems to know where.