Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Lombardi Gras or Dat Tuesday?

Yesterday's parade for the New Orleans Saints was really quite something.

Our schools closed early so people could start the parade, and American Idol was preempted so people could watch the end of the parade on TV (which is how I and my very cold-blooded family watched the festivities).

Here is an article about the goings on.

Some 500,000 people were apparently huddled in the Central Business District as the team and the entire behind-the-scenes group of personnel that work for the team rode 10 elite floats all loaned by the biggest Mardi Gras krewes - the likes of which has never been done in New Orleans before.

The players - some of whom had never been to a Mardi Gras parade before - partied and tossed armloads of beads to the crowds. It was a rather surreal scene to see Saints defensive end Jeff Charleston smoke a cigar, dance, and drink champagne on top of a gigantic green alligator float as the commentators told his story of being cut by Indianapolis early in the season, only to be picked up by the Saints, win the Super Bowl against the team that released him - and to top it off, he gave the Lombardi trophy a lick when it was passed around by the players.

He has apparently gone native. That's our kind of guy.

The floats all passed in review in front of just about every dignitary imaginable - from government bureaucrats high and low, captains of industry, and even an archbishop.

The goofy New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin (who leaves office in a few days) was actually a funny host, guzzling champagne and cracking jokes about the need to drink more to stave off the cold. The governor was on hand, both U.S. senators, several U.S. congressmen, state legislators, colorful city council members across the political spectrum, the incoming mayor, and area parish presidents. The team's owner and his family danced with black and gold umbrellas as bands (everything from high school marching bands to the U.S. Marine Corp's band) played the ubiquitous Ying Yang Twins' ditty Stand Up and Get Crunk. And if that weren't enough, the "twins" themselves were there to perform the anthem live as apparently even the politicians and aristocrats of Crescent City high society know all the words.

The 610 Stompers - a group of middle-aged guys with Saints season tickets and gym shorts from Superdome section 610 who resorted to starting a male dance team to hang onto their season tickets in tough economic times (think The Full Monty without the nudity) also marched in the parade. Surprisingly, there were no men in dresses. That was a different parade. And no, it isn't what you're probably thinking.

And now, if this weren't enough, we're just starting the big part of carnival. Mardi Gras is still a week away. It is going to be a blur of a week! "Throw me something, mister," and "Who dat?" all rolled into one big party. I better get the espresso started now...

The really cool part about the parade is that it was all set up before the Super Bowl, win or lose - the same floats, bands, parade route, everything. I do think it would have been basically the same party even if the Saints had lost the game. I was kind of stunned to read this, that only 11 people came to the airport to greet the returning Indy Colts. I know that the folks in Cleveland would have shown up en masse if their beloved Browns had made it to Miami and come in second. Hopefully, it was just a matter of bad weather.

Anyway, here's a little music video treat for lovers of New Orleans and/or fans of the Saints: