What happens when the biggest party and the biggest football games are happening in the same city at the same time?
As a Mardi Gras photographer and writer who was in New Orleans when The Saints won the Superbowl in 2010, this question came up a while back with our staff photographers and scheduling Mardi Gras coverage.
Those who have been in New Orleans this past year know that one of the answers to that question is that the city has rampped up and prepared as if they knew there were a hurricane coming and knew when it would hit.
From the airport to the Superdome and all around downtown New Orleans, roads, parking lots, and other areas have been torn up and repaired and they are putting in a new streetcar that goes from Union Station to Canal Street. For those who want to come into New Orleans via Greyhound or on Amtrak as I did this week, it will be a big boon as they will be able to take the Loyola Street streetcar to the Canal Street streetcar and connect to the rest of the city transportation network from there. Loyola street is just a couple blocks from the Superdome so this will deliver Superbowl 47 attendees within walking distance of the game without having to fight the traffic.
While this will make things run more smoothly with the Superbowl in town it isn’t sufficient to fully ameliorate the conflicts of having the biggest of big games and the biggest of big parties in town at the same time. So what else have they done?
Quite simply they juggled the parade schedule and moved all the parades back a week leaving no parades in the downtown and French Quarter streets on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday of the Superbowl 47 weekend. Rescheduling parades happens quite often due to the weather in New Orleans so it isn’t a problem for the local krewes (Mardi Gras parade organizations/crews are called krewes.) New Orleans is known as “The city that puts the fun in funerals” and so this just gives the city another weekend to have a huge party.
Does that mean that Superbowl attendees won’t be able to see Mardi Gras parades while they are in town? Heaven forbid! While folks from Key West to Texas know that Mardi Gras is celebrated in many cities along the Gulf Coast, folks who are not from the south may not know. Pushing back the downtown and French Quarter parades will actually give some of the outlying areas more focus during the Superbowl 47 weekend.
On Friday February first the Krewes of Excaliber and Atlas will be parading in Metairie and the Krewe of Eve will be hitting the streets in Mandeville, just across Lake Pontchartrain. On Saturday the Krewe of Alla will be parading in the West Bank, the Knights of Nemesis in Chalmette, the Krewe of Olympia in Covington, the Krewe of Caesar Metairie, and The Mystic Krewe of Titans in Slidell.
On Sunday? You won’t find a parade in New Orleans nor in the surrounding areas. Why? Having been on the always busy Bourbon Street when it was dead silent while The Saints were winning the Superbowl in 2010, the answer is quite easy. The folks from New Orleans love their football and they love their parades but in the case of The Big Game, the Superbowl wins and it is unlikely that any krewe would want to have their parade during the Superbowl.
If you plan to be in New Orleans on February third and are not a football fan, don’t despair. There are many awesome restaurants in New Orleans so plan to have a nice, quiet dinner at one of them, but don’t be surprised if your waiter or waitress seems distracted and you hear the occasional shouting and cheering in the kitchen as the staff will likely have smuggled a TV into the back room.
So when do the Mardi Gras parties start? They already have! This weekend in New Orleans are the Krewe du Vieux and the Krewe Delusion in the French Quarter on Saturday, January 19th and Sunday, the Krewe of Little Rascals in Metairie!
The Mardi Gras season is here and the parades will roll this weekend, so Laissez les bons temps rouler!