The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

My granddad Big Jim Sullivan was an old-timey mule man. When he was still a teenager he got hired by the USPS to deliver mail in rural Kentucky.

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

The 20s weren’t that roaring up on the Cumberland Highlands and when Big Jim headed to work he did so by mule-back. He’d ride into nearby Gray, pick up a leather pouch filled with letters and packages and set out at a good trot to get the folks their mail.

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

A mule was a valuable commodity to a young man growing up in rural Appalachia.

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

Big Jim had a variety of the creatures over the years, and each one was named Pete. When I was a little kid I marveled at their prodigious working abilities; Granddaddy would hitch them up to an old Bull Tongue plow and take off across a pasture that needed to be tilled and within a few short hours the entire field would be plowed.

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

At the end of their workout the animals would retire to an enormous pen and fling themselves onto the ground for a thorough dust bath. I always found it intriguing.

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

Mules have been an integral part of the fabric of New Orleans life for centuries. This past weekend Charlotte Jones, a tour guide for Mid-City Carriages, organized a blessing of the mules prior to the big Krewe du Vieux parade through the French Quarter.

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

Krewe du Vieux is unique in that it’s floats are all pulled by these massive half-donkeys. I showed up for the ceremony with a pocket of peppermints to give to these gorgeous creatures.

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

Here’s what I saw:

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

The Blessing of the Mules In New Orleans

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