Wed, Mar 06, 2019 - Page 7 News List

New Orleans celebrates last day of Mardi Gras

AP, NEW ORLEANS

Giant train float Smokey Mary chugs down Napoleon Avenue as the 1,400 men and women of the Krewe of Orpheus present a 38-float Mardi Gras parade entitled “The Orpheus Imaginarium” on the uptown parade route in New Orleans on Monday.

Photo: AP

The streets of New Orleans yesterday were to be filled with excited children catching beads from atop ladders, revelers in fancy costumes walking through the French Quarter and Mardi Gras Indians wearing finely beaded costumes.

Yesterday marked the final day of the Mardi Gras season, which began on Jan. 6.

After rainy weather affected some parades on Sunday, the weather yesterday was expected to be cold, but sunny.

The festivities were due to begin early in the morning when the Northside Skull and Bone Gang walks through the Treme neighborhood before the sun comes up, wearing costumes that look like skeletons and waking people up to celebrate the day.

Then the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club were to parade along the city’s famed St Charles Avenue followed by the Rex Parade.

Zulu’s practice of wearing black makeup during its parade has drawn attention and criticism after news that two Virginia lawmakers wore “blackface” heightened attention nationally to the issue.

Zulu last month issued a statement saying that their parade costumes bear no resemblance to those worn by “blackface” minstrel performers at the turn of the century and that their costumes are designed to honor garments worn by South African Zulu warriors.

The Rex parade was also expected to feature a stop at “The Rex House,” despite a fire that heavily damaged the historic mansion.

The home along St Charles Avenue has been an important stop along the Rex parade route since 1907 and the Rex king usually stops at the house during the parade.

A fire on Feb. 20 caused massive damage to the three-story, 150-year-old mansion, whose occupants over the years include four kings and a queen of Rex.

This year’s carnival season has also featured numerous jabs at the National Football League (NFL) and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, over the now-infamous “no-call” that came during the Jan. 20 National Football Conference Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints.

A Rams defensive back leveled a Saints receiver with a helmet-to-helmet hit at a crucial point in the final minutes of regulation time.

The Rams went on to win the game and then lost to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

NFL officials acknowledged after the game that flags should have been thrown, but judging by the number of Saints fans dressed up as blind referees during the Mardi Gras season fans here have neither forgiven nor forgotten.

The party was officially due to end at midnight, when police on horseback ride down Bourbon Street to ceremonially “clear” the street — a symbol meant to mark the end of the carnival season.

Today marks the beginning of Lent, which for many Christians is a period of fasting and reflection ahead of Easter.

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