Advocate photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Carnival clubs, a brass band and actor Bryan Batt were all on hand to mark the 44th annual pre-Mardi Gras weekend greasing of the poles at the Royal Sonesta. The greasing is to keep revelers from trying the climb the poles supporting the hotel's Bourbon Street balconies. Carnival favorites the Pussyfooters performed.

QUESTION: Hi Arthur! I grew up in New Orleans but left after Katrina. Sad, I know. What are some of the biggest differences between pre-Katrina and post-Katrina Mardi Gras seasons?

ARTHUR HARDY: The biggest difference I see is the explosion in female parading organizations.

QUESTION: If you’re riding in Endymion, Bacchus and other big parades, how much does one person spend on membership fees and throws?

ARTHUR: There is no average, because some people are extremely generous with the amount they spend on throws. However, I doubt anyone spends less than $1,500 on dues and throws in any of those parades.

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER