2009 Feb 22 | Mardi Gras

Monica has hips.

I don't.

The Holiday Inn had a pool, but it was outside, and it was a little too cold for swimming. The building across the street was lit up nicely, though.

Arg, the toilet constantly ran. I think it might have been designed to or something because the chain wasn't stuck and you couldn't hear it, but you could see it swirling around a bit, which was a minor annoyance to me.

The pool from above.

What we brought to wear and give out.

People put chairs and ladders for kids out way before the parades start.

Thankfully we were staying close to the parades so we could just run back to the motel between them rather than paying for bathrooms.

There were also lots of vendors pushing carts around.

A tree with tons of beads.

A couch on stilts in the back of a pick-up.

The king or whatever of our first parade, Iris.

A colorful float.

There were bands between floats. People would get right up close to the floats to get beads, and then the bands had escorts along the sides to push people back again, so the crowd was constantly ebbing back and forth.

We tried to stay away from the little kids on their parents' shoulders because the people on the floats always gave them things instead of us. We would move to another spot if a lot of them came around us. Same thing for really aggressive people.

The first unique set of beads I got. After a while, we just threw any normal beads we got behind us and only kept the interesting ones.

Another band. Apparently that whole integration thing hasn't worked out too well. The black schools were 100% black students, and the white schools would sometimes have a few scattered black and Asian students, but never more than about 5% or so.

Monica trying to get some beads.

This float had tons and tons of beads hanging on the outside near the top.

A few people had tubes on their ladders so they could drop any beads they caught into it and have them slide down into a container. Pretty slick.

A truck with lots of tires and air hoses in the middle of the parade just in case a float broke down, which I thought was a pretty good idea.

This cop just stood here all day reading his book, which is probably what I would have done if I had been in his position.

Monica's haul from Iris.

The neatest beads so far. The multi-colored ones, third from the right, were the best. They were pretty heavy and Monica actually bruised her hand catching them. We also got a couple of doubloons, which are specific for each parade and are thrown out much more rarely than beads.

We went to the Endymion parade at night, which is supposed to be the biggest/best parade. Here are some of the flambeaux carriers, a traditional way of lighting the parade. Although in the old days they didn't have propane tanks strapped to their backs.

There were also guys on horses. One of our pet peeves was many of the people on floats would throw entire bags of beads instead of opening them and throwing the beads individually. I guess it was easier, but it meant fewer people got them and one person would get a ton. Not to mention it was more painful to get hit if you weren't prepared to catch them. We usually walked back to the motel on the sidewalk beside the parade, and some of the guys could get the beads pretty far, so you had to be on the lookout for flying beads when you were beside a float. We saw a few people get nailed when they weren't expecting it.

A guy walking on stilts.

The floats at night had tons of lights.

Spotlights and a confetti shooter.

The line the band escorts would push people behind. Some of the escorts were pretty aggressive. They would come by swinging a huge pole or something and you had better get out of the way.

A big costume.

A clown float.

And another one.

Flowers and other things.

Monica trying to get some beads.

And some more. One of the neatest moments was when one of the throwers on a float saw a whistle Monica had and asked if he could have it. Monica gave it to him and he started to look around for something good to give her. He found a light-up necklace and gave her that. Then he grabbed a couple more and tried to give them to her, but the people beside her kept trying to snatch them, and he kept pulling them back so they couldn't get them. Eventually they got ahold of them and didn't let go. That was kind of disappointing, but it was really fun to give someone something they specifically asked about, especially because it was Monica giving it to the guy on the float rather than the other way around.

Monica getting some beads. I get smacked, too.

And me getting some. He kept trying to hit me, but I was beside/behind a tree and his tosses were always getting stuck in the branches. This time is aim was a little better, though.

And Monica's beads from Endymion.

The best ones from the Endymion. A few different things this time, including flip flops and, uh, panties. I really wanted one of the Endymion light-up necklaces, but I only saw them throw a single one of those around us.

Getting ready to go out to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street.

In the dark. Monica thought people would like things that flash, so that's what we brought. Whistles, balls, spiny gelly wrist things, balloons, and necklaces.

After the parade, although this was nothing compared to Bourbon Street.

It was pretty crowded. Usually it wasn't too bad, but there was one point where it almost got to the dangerous level of when you are getting pushed in some direction and have no control over it.

People trying to get beads from the people on the balconies.

You could go up on most of the balconies for around $50 to $100 per person, but we decided to just hang out on the street instead.

A few women were flashing the people in balconies for beads, although not nearly as many as we had expected.

Another woman about to flash.

And these women on this balcony were flashing their breasts and underwear.

A view of the crowd.

A naked guy on one end posing with a body-painted woman. Supposedly the police only allow naked breasts, so I wonder if they came after him.

Some neat outfits.

A bunch of people on a different balcony. Monica and I both thought it would be more capitalistic: we give you beads, you flash your breasts. But it really seemed to be just more random flashing and bead throwing and not caring too much if you got "paid" for it. We ended up only giving necklaces and things to people who said they were neat or people dressed up, having a lot of fun, or standing out in some other way.

Pressure washing the streets after the parade.

Monica's grimy feet after Bourbon Street.

The elevators at our motels were really slow and were often full when they happened to stop. We were on the 16th floor and decided to walk down instead of waiting for the elevators.

Sunday morning we went to the Okeanos parade. We stood near these guys, who really dressed up for it.

This couple made outfits out of doubloons they had collected over the years.

This girl was using a fishing net to try to get more beads. We ended up walking about 15 miles over the two days (we thought we might get better throws near the beginning of the parades, and our motel was near the end of them), so our legs and feet were a little sore by the end.

Monica and I in our masks. Very few people had masks on, though. Overall, I was surprised that it was actually tamer than a typical weekend event in San Francisco, but it was still a lot of fun.