The Mardi Gras tradition of the Northside Skull and Bones dates back to about 1819 when the gang began walking the streets at dawn, singing so…
Rex had some competition for the role of king of Carnival on Fat Tuesday as the sun made a welcome appearance and banished any disappointment lingering from the alternately cold, gray and rainy days that came before.
Mardi Gras kicked off before sunrise for many, as paradegoers claimed their spots along the Zulu and Rex parade routes, St. Anne marchers donned their costumes and the Northside Skull & Bones Gang marched through Treme.
Zulu parade, with Spike Lee and several Saints players aboard, rolled in New Orleans on Mardi Gras. Rex‚ the oldest parading Carnival organiza…
Within a few hours, Zulu had begun to roll through Central City, with a line-up that included King Brent Washington Sr., Grand Marshal Spike Lee and Saints stars Alvin Kamara, Cam Jordan, Marcus Williams, Marshon Lattimore and Mark Ingram.
The parade also featured Mayor-elect Latoya Cantrell, who rode on a horse alongside Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman. Mayor Mitch Landrieu, also on horseback, led the parade.
Rex, King of Carnival, rolled afterward, the krewe's 137th parade, featuring military bands and its signature Jester, Boeuf Gras and Butterfly King floats.
Hours after Rex passed, three men were injured in two separate shootings that broke out near the Uptown parade route.
The first occurred about 3:15 p.m. at Union and Carondelet streets in the Central Business District, and the other about an hour later near St. Charles Avenue and Second Street.
Peace reigned in Jefferson Parish, where the krewes of Argus, Elks and Jefferson rode the Metairie route, with Michael Maenza waving the scepter as king of Argus.
Tuesday's brilliant blue sky was not entirely free of clouds, but the warm temperatures were a welcome contrast to the rain and thunderstorms of Wednesday and Saturday nights.
Jennifer Doucette and Cole Mills, of Mid-City, made their way down Esplanade Avenue on Tuesday morning, pulling a garden wagon decked out like a coral reef for their aquatically themed take on their usual zoo animal costumes.
They left behind the glitter-dusted front yard of their Ursulines Avenue home for the gathering of the Society of St. Anne parade in the Bywater, buoyed by the promise of a dry and balmy day.
“Thank God,” she said. “We were talking about what we we’re going to do with this float if it rains? It’d be a good excuse to get rid of it, because what am I going to do with this after Mardi Gras?”
At St. Louis Street and North Claiborne Avenue, Arthur Robertson, 49, filled up his cup as he prepared to seek out some old friends. Robertson moved to Atlanta in July, and while there are things he likes about the quality of life there, the pull of New Orleans is still strong.
“I miss it all the time,” he said. “In Atlanta, people speak to you and you look them in the face and they turn their head because they're not used to that. They’re not used to being social … and you have to be social, you have to have enjoyment in life.”
Robertson said his girlfriend’s family always holds down the corner, grilling, frying, laughing and socializing.
“When you come here, it’s just a harbor of peace and safety,” he said.
Over on Treme Street, Charles Stewart, of Algiers, grilled sausages and pork chops as his family watched Zulu nearby on Canal Street.
It was Stewart’s first celebration of Mardi Gras since 2015, having missed the last two after a drunken-driving conviction landed him in prison.
“It was beautiful,” he said of setting up again in the early-morning hours, watching the familiar sights of people taking their spots and parking their cars. “It was just like coming back home.”
Stewart said he’s been sober now for two years and four months, “and I’ll be honest with you, I’m glad I am. All I drink is cranberry juice, water and Coke, and I feel the same way as when I used to drink. I still enjoy myself, and now I don’t have to worry about headaches or worry about going to jail.”
Downtown, Alma Dunlap, an Old Metairie native, slipped through a break in the route with her family on their way to the Bienville Club on Gravier Street. She usually catches the parade at Third Street and St. Charles Avenue, but decided to head downtown this year.
“It’s just happiness,” she said of Carnival. “It’s a lot of fun.”
After Zulu and Rex roll in New Orleans, truck parades Elks Orleanians and Crescent City followed on Mardi Gras.
Uptown, costumed paradegoers strolled the streets as bike riders made their way parallel to the parade route on St. Charles, where folding chairs lined the street and pop-up canopies now shielding sunlight instead of rain dotted the neutral ground.
“No one owns the street, baby,” said Brandy Nunnery, encouraging a newcomer to squeeze in and photograph the riders on horseback trotting just ahead of Lynes “Poco” Sloss, this year’s Rex.
“We’re all here to have fun,” said Nunnery, a social worker and West Jefferson native now living in Atlanta. “I understand people wanting to get their spot, but Mardi Gras is for everyone to come together.”
As the last floats of Rex slipped through the Central Business District to end at the foot of Canal, the inexorable pull of the French Quarter began to assert itself on those not heading home.
Some chose to wander the streets in search of food and libations in the hours that remained before Lent. Hundreds showed up at the 54th annual Bourbon Street Awards, a traditionally gay costume contest that awards the best and most eccentric attire every Mardi Gras.
The annual Bourbon Street costume contest and Societe de Saint Anne walking parade are unique, annual parts of Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Ben Nobles has watched the spectacle outside his house on St. Ann Street for the past 32 years, less than a block away from the stage. During Carnival, it's not unusual for massive gatherings to develop at all hours just outside his front door. And Nobles is not just OK with that — he embraces it.
“The best part is just seeing people come out and drop their hair so to speak and the rich and the poor, the beggar with the billionaire and the Christian with the atheist,” he said.
One of the people Noble looked forward to seeing this year was Zak Gillespie, better known by the stage name Fatsy Cline.
Cline won last year’s award for best drag costume and Noble was hoping for a repeat. He wouldn’t be disappointed.
Cline’s winning costume this year consisted not only of her own drag outfit, but also a piano designed to honor the My-O-My Club, a drag club that operated along Lake Pontchartrain from the 1940s until a fire in 1972.
Cline named her costume “Lady Slurs the Booze” — a pun on “Lady Sings the Blues.”
She knew it would be a winner.
“If I don’t win, it’s a crime,” she said before the announcement came.
Noble said he knows events like the Bourbon Street Awards aren’t for everyone — some of his neighbors leave town. But he wouldn't miss it.
“I think it’s part of whatever makes people come and not leave," Noble said. "It’s just part of a grid and you feel a part of it wherever you’re from.”
Mardi Gras tribes from Central City and the 7th Ward, wearing hand-made one of kind costumes, parade through their perspective parts of town t…