Cold weather didn’t seem to stop anyone from donning their elaborate costumes Tuesday in the French Quarter, Marigny and Treme, where thousands packed the streets starting in the early morning to celebrate the final day of Carnival.
“We just love celebrating New Orleans,” said Toddy Wobbema, who founded the Uptown-Bucktown Social Aid and Pleasure Club 18 years ago.
Her group, which all wore purple for its theme “Purple Reign,” was one of dozens making their way through the French Quarter in the morning, showing what Wobbema said is the true spirit of Mardi Gras — “costuming, dancing, singing in the streets.”
The most decorative of those costumers found their place on St. Ann Street on Tuesday afternoon, for the annual Bourbon Street Awards, where everything from a phoenix to a human UFO lined up to show off their elaborate costumes — or lack thereof.
“She looks good,” said Fatsy Cline, the drag performer who worked on her 1960s UFO-themed “Abduction of Venus” costume for three months.
Though she said the costume was intensely uncomfortable, Cline would leave the awards with her third consecutive win in the “best drag” category. She wasn’t surprised.
“It’s kind of a tradition,” she said of winning.
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The revelers lining up for the show, and just the general devil-may-care attitude that swept through the French Quarter on Tuesday, didn’t seem to bother Susan Magee, even though she doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter.
“It’s nice because I don’t have to leave. I just open the door,” said the Bourbon Street resident, who’s lived near Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop for 10 years.
Magee said Mardi Gras is actually one of her favorite times of year, even though it’s probably the “most crowded.”
On the edge of the French Quarter, Zulu did its annual parade, rolling lakebound up Canal Street before turning onto Basin Street and making its way through Treme.
Michael Hayes, a New Orleans native, calls making the trip to see Zulu a tradition, one he’s made sure to pass on to future generations. His daughter and 5-year-old grandson watched with him Tuesday on Basin Street.
“I did it as a kid, brought my daughter as a kid, now my grandson as a kid,” Hayes said.
Another tradition that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is the Northside Skull and Bone gang, who have now rung in Mardi Gras by waking up the Treme neighborhood in the early morning for 200 years.
Later, they celebrated the day at the Backstreet Cultural Museum. It’s the same place the Krewe of Red Beans meets for Lundi Gras.
This year, a sign outside the museum read “We love you Sharree,” referencing the Red Beans member and young professional Sharree Walls, who was killed while bicycling on Esplanade Avenue on Saturday night.
Groups outside the museum remembered her through celebration, which for another year seemed to reverberate around the city.
Perhaps the only group not having a good time in the French Quarter were those trying to drive through it.
Costumers didn’t seem to care much for traffic laws.
“We have no rules,” Wobbema said.