Mardi Gras is over and we returned home today from Lafayette where Carol Ann and I managed to attend four of the six parades. We missed one on Saturday night because it was pouring rain and we missed the last one on Tuesday afternoon because we had to pick up the food for our club’s Fat Tuesday dinner.
We watched all four parades from the corner of Johnston and University, in front of the First Presbyterian Church. This was the approximate mid-point of the 3.9 mile parade route. It took each parade almost an hour and a half to reach us and about 45 minutes to pass completely by us, as there were dozens of floats and marching bands in each parade. By the time the parades reached us, some of the marching bands were really dragging and still had another couple of miles to go.
Each float had about 20 riders who tossed beads almost non-stop. Sometimes it they would throw one necklace at a time; sometimes they were tossed by the handfuls. I even caught an unopened plastic bag of beads that was tossed out. Each floats had cases and cases of beads, all made in China.
Carol Ann and I managed to snag 39 pounds of beads (yes, we weighed them today when we got home) at the four parades we attended! Some of the other club members managed an even greater amount. It also seemed that most of the other 250,000 people watching the parades did at least as well as Carol Ann and I. Holding the crowds back were 5,500 metal barricades lining both sides of the parade route. There were also many police officers spread along each block of the route.
Food and novelty vendors were continuously pushing their carts up and down the parade route. Local restaurants had awnings and tents set up from which they sold all kinds of food and drink. There were coolers and portable tables filled with food brought from home or cooked on grills right there along the parade route.
At the end of each parade the entire route was littered with beads that didn’t make it to the crowds on the other side of the police barricades. There were also thousands of empty plastic bags scattered about. The street cleaners would work for about 8 hours after each parade, moving all of the barricades to the sides of the roads and cleaning up the 210 cubic-yards (about 30 dump truck loads or over 1,200 wheel barrow loads) of litter and debris PER PARADe. That’s 180 dump truck loads for all 6 parades. Then all of the barricades had to be moved back into place before the next parade. The 121 portable toilets also had to be cleaned. On Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras ends, all of the Public Works crews have the day off. I’m sure they deserved it.