“I just like being able to walk down the street in a costume,” he said, smiling sheepishly.
It’s the festive side of this party town that appeals, he admits, and he got me to thinking about a 60-something cousin of mine from Texas who came here for a convention slated to begin a day or two after that year’s first Carnival parades.
He and his wife watched with us as Alla rolled down DeGaulle, and he collected five or so pounds of those big purple, green and gold strings of beads. He liked them so much that he wore three or four — accented with a couple of red strands — every day to the convention center, and told us that he might well try to set a new fashion at home.
Another year, a couple visiting from Delaware hated to part with the green and gold and purple clown suits that I’d had made for them to wear on a long Mardi Gras Day walk from way Uptown to the Quarter. Alas, they had no place to wear them in Wilmington, and the costumes hang in my closet, ready for other Carnival guests.
But dressing up isn’t the only thing that visitors and transplants like about New Orleans. I remember a comment from a woman I interviewed 10 years ago for a series of articles for Preservation in Print. It was about out-of-towners who buy homes and take up residence in the city’s historic neighborhoods.
“You can dance in the streets here when you’re 90, and nobody gives a damn,” was what she gave as her reason for becoming a New Orleanian.
As Rosanne Rosanna Danna used to say years ago on “Saturday Night Live,” “If it’s not one thing, it’s another” here in Party Town, U.S.A. That’s not what she meant, but you get the picture.
Sunday’s Nola.com web pages, as well as the pages of the print edition of The Times-Picayune, were filled with photos of people partying on Saturday. “Chewbacchus 2013 parade a cosmic delight,” raved reviewer Doug McCash, and Adonis, Pygmalion and Bards of the Bilges also drew festive crowds on a perfect day for getting out and about.
Two years ago, a friend from St. Paul, Minn., departed from our house enroute to the airport carrying a bag of about 20 pounds of beads, collected at the Alla, Zulu and Rex parades and afterward gathered from our neighbors, who were happy to supply the decorations for a Minnesota Mardi Gras bash she was just beginning to envision for 2012.
This year, things are doubly festive, what with Super Bowl being played here in the middle of carnival. Everybody’s in a party mode that began with Christmas and New Year‘s. Some young relatives of ours were putting off painting the inside of their house until after the holidays.
“I guess that means until after Mardi Gras now,” said my husband to their mother/mother-in-law.
“It probably means until after Jazz Fest,” she returned, laughing.
Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at email@example.com.