New Orleanians will take any opportunity to dress up in costume and parade around the city - it's just something we do. So, obviously, Halloween is a pretty big deal around here, and when I heard that a couple of parades were planned, I jumped into action. For the first parade, I just grabbed the costume stuff that didn't get ruined and wore that; you know, your standard tux with tails jacket, funky purple pants, and a boa. For the second, I was a little more organized and spelled out FEMA on my chest with white tape and then wrapped myself in red tape - many, many people took pictures of that costume. Along with the usual sexy nuns and witches and whatnot, a lot of Katrina-themed costumes were on hand. Duck-taped refrigerators strolled down Bourbon Street, as well as Mold Man, FEMA checks, and the Ninth Ward Swim Team. One of my favorites was a woman dressed as the water line - a fuzzy black line across her chest, and then dirt and mud and yuck below. My friend Charles wore a tail and ears and drew an SPCA "X" on his chest, and Anne dressed as a sexy Red Cross nurse complete with pill bottles of various anti-depressants attached to her belt (if only the Red Cross were really so helpful). I ran into a lot of friends and couldn't actually ever walk very far without getting stopped by someone I knew and then we would have to have the conversation we all have these days - how'd you do, what did you lose, staying or going? It was good to see so many people and hear everyone's plans for staying.
So both walking parades wound through the Quarter, stopping at a few bars along the way, though one was longer and actually started in the Treme (lakeside of the Quarter) and ended up in the Marigny (downriver from the Quarter). There weren't too many of us at first, but our numbers quickly swelled as we stumbled along. It probably took us about three hours to wander the entire route, and I was quite glad I wasn't wearing, oh, high heels or swim fins. (I was in my trusty motorcycle boots - happy feet!) The Soul Rebels brass band played, which was very cool of them because they're too big to do street parades anymore, but they made an exception for us. Our King was an older gentleman dressed as a skeleton whose name I didn't catch, but he never evacuated, at all. Been in New Orleans the entire time.
I should explain here that, along with Mardi Gras Indians and the Mardi Gras parades, there's another tradition in New Orleans. African-American New Orleanians dress up as skeletons and walk the streets in the wee hours of the morning banging bones and shouting. It's often a family tradition passed down from fathers to sons. Anyway, our King was a leader of this tradition, and it was very cool to have him.
We also had a Queen and a Princess, Katrina & Rita, of course, though since we didn't have floats, they just got pushed around in shopping carts. They were dressed in full bondage gear, armed with whips, and mean. My ass was whipped too many times to count, and that was before we even got to Mimi's where the parade ended. We were there for all of five minutes when a transformer right on the corner exploded in a shower of sparks and the bar lost power, not that it stopped them from continuing to fuel us with booze. Let's see, what else happened? I kept running into this woman named Liz in drink or bathroom lines all night because we clearly had similar priorities, and she gave me some purple and black lipstick to replace what I had left on plastic cups throughout the Quarter because clearly we have similar tastes in make-up, though unfortunately it was immediately lost again when the Princess kissed me a few minutes later. Then I got to brag about being kissed by the Princess for awhile. Our Queen jumped up on a military Humvee and gave an impromptu speech about taking our city back and not letting even the worst natural disaster in our country's history keep us down, and we all cheered and applauded like crazy, and then she grabbed the nearest National Guard guy and made out with him, wrapping her legs around him and dragging him up on the hood of the Humvee and we all cheered and applauded all the more. And then the party really got going.
Man, I love this town.