Tuesday, January 12, 2016
It's an early Mardi Gras this year. Now that I am an old and have seen enough Carnival seasons come and go, it's reasonable that by now I would have developed a preference for either the early or late schedule. I haven't. And that's kind of strange because the two are such different sorts of affair you'd think the choice would be easy.
Do you want some time to recuperate from the Holidays before easing in to a new season of celebrating? Or would you rather just let the momentum carry you on through without having to find your sea legs a second time? Would you like to spend more time outdoors just as the weather starts to turn nice? Or do you relish the opportunity to get some actual use out of that winter coat and gloves that often feel superfluous here in the sub-tropics? There's something to appreciate in either experience. It's best to just take it as it comes.
Regardless of where it falls in the calendar the whole thing does seem to pass more quickly the older one gets. I suppose there are good and bad points to that as well. But, as long as we're having an early season anyway, we may as well jump right in and make the most of the time we do have.
This is why we were looking forward to seeing the brand new Krewe of Loup Garou on Saturday. Usually the few weeks between Epiphany and Krewe du Vieux are reserved for the more behind-the-scenes.. or at least club-centered activities; organization sponsored parties, balls and such. Loup Garou (a creature of the Irish Channel Neighborhood association) saw an opportunity to add a little street theater to that part of the schedule.
The organizers say they're modeling the new parade on what Krewe du Vieux or Chewbacchus presents. The idea is to gather a procession of individually managed "sub-krewes" of marchers each with its own theme. Anyone can join, although the pricing scheme is confusing. In practice, the inaugural Krewe of Loup Garou looked more like a second line than anything else. We caught up with it in front of the Balcony Bar.
It was a fairly small group of marchers, maybe 80-100 in all. The "sub-krewes," such as they were, weren't easily distinguishable from one another as the whole group pretty much moved together down the street making stops at a few sponsoring bars along the route. I remember seeing a few of the early Chewbacchus parades before they got all super-cool and moved to Bywater. Those parades looked an awful lot like this.
There were a few rudimentary floats. The "Shady Characters" here were pushing a cart adorned with parasols.
These guys had a grocery cart.
The most cleverly themed group of marchers, I guess, were these guys.
They're dressed as the red bagged Advocate advertiser editions most of us find dumped all over the city sidewalks several times a week. A lot of people consider them litter. It's an especially hot issue among a certain class of white people these days. And Krewe of Loup Garou is squarely in the sweet spot of that red bagger demo. Here's the "satirical" handout the red baggers gave us as they passed.
However interesting (or not) that might be to you, it was nice to see something new. We've already mentioned at least once this year (and are certain we will do so again) that what our increasingly tourist-centric Carnival desperately needs more of now are small-scale events presented for and by locals along individual, neighborhood-specific routes. For that reason alone, Krewe of Loup Garou is a welcome addition to the calendar. But it was also a fun opportunity to get out of the house and get an early jump on the parade season before the early parade season had a chance to sneak up on us.