The next major decision was which "Throw Package" to purchase. I had visualised a few strings of beads and a packet of doubloons. Umm...No...my trusty Float Lieutenant, MKL, informed me. The route is 6 miles long and you will run out very quickly. So, taking a deep breath, I invested in a throws package guaranteed to restore the economy of Louisiana. That was it...now all we had to do was turn up.
My dear friend, AK (a friendship that has dated since we were both the nerdy kids with funny accents in a new school in Australia), met us at New Orleans airport and took us straight to the float staging area where the throws were being loaded. Naively I had assumed this to be a large warehouse with busy people loading throws on to floats. It was a dark, deserted street in the old port area down by the Mississippi. We bumped down pot holed, unlit roads and over rail lines to where the dark silhouettes of the floats loomed against the sky. The always prepared Aussies had torches so we carried AK's bags of throws down the long, ominous line of floats where weird faces loomed at us from the dark and no other living soul seemed to be around.
The theme for our parade was Friday Night at the Movies so we passed Batman and Pirates of the Carribbean floats. Ours (Number 16), one of the smaller floats, had a Star Wars theme. I have to say that unlit and in the dark you realise they are just painted canvas contraptions built over a frame and pulled by tractors. I had paid for our throws to be preloaded and nearly died when I saw the HUGE pile of stash I had invested in. "We'll never get through this," I said to DH (darling husband) as we eyed the 26 bags of beads and 5 big blue bags of other throws.
|We have our take away slushies...|
|Ready to rock at the Bash|
|Mixing with Royalty. The Queen of Morpheus|
|Float 16, Star Wars and one excited rider|
I actually think, in retrospect, that the long, slow ride to the staging area (under police escort) in the gathering twilight of a New Orleans evening was probably the most pleasant part of the day. We broke open the first of our bead bags and organised ourselves as best we could around the bags of throws (with 4 of us in one small area it was cramped). The addition of a cheerful DJ called Sidney with a dubious taste in rapper music that blared loudly right into our ears all night, made it even more squeezy. We had 19 or 20 floats (I didn't count) and being small, we were towards the end of the parade. High School marching bands squeezed in between the floats.
|The slow ride to the staging area|
I hated seeing beads and cups fall to the ground unheeded. Hey, mister, I PAID for those!!!!
|Half way through...hot, sweaty and muddy!|
Kind Krewe members took pity on us and passed over spare throws. I had one "gold medallion" I was saving for the token drunk Aussie we would see in the crowd but six miles passed and not one identifiable drunk Aussie, token or otherwise!
The float made another turn and it was over. We saw other Krewe members from earlier floats, walking back up the path towards us. I wore no watch (too much risk of it going overboard with the throws). DH told me it was 1230. We had been on the float for 7 hours and it had gone in a flash!
It was 3.00 am before we got to bed but it took a while to go to sleep as the passing sea of faces and hands, the thump of Sidney's execrable music still echoed in my mind.
On Monday we posted two expensive parcels with our memorabilia from the night to share with disbelieving friends and family back home...$150 worth or memories. Can't wait to unpack them.
But Mardi Gras was far from over...watch for Part 3 or How I Nearly Got Shot in Bourbon Street...