Showing posts with label Krewe of Centaur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Krewe of Centaur. Show all posts

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Take a Trip to the Centaur 2012 Parade

We have survived the 2012 Centaur parade; it was cold out there!  The temperature at parade time was about 37 but the wind was blowing and the sun was sinking and it felt colder.  You never know with the weather around here.  It was seventy degrees last week and freezing today. 

We always walk to the parade route from chez SIGIS.  It's not that far and is much easier than fighting the traffic after the parade. I have a friend that lives right on the route and so that's our base on parade day. 

She invites a crowd and everyone brings a potluck contribution.  This year a guy brought his deep fryer so our feast included fried cheese sticks, chicken tenders, and corndogs.  There was also boudin, burgers, jambalaya, steak on a stick, and plenty of sweets, chips and dips to go around.  I ate the best brownies I've ever had in my life.  After the parade the fixins' for s'mores come out and the kids are in hog heaven. 

We had three fire pits going:

...and I nearly caught myself on fire at least twice.

I love to people watch while sitting by the fire.  I saw people with wagons:

And people with tutus:

People eating:

And one group brought a couch and a basketball goal out there:

And there's a guy with a turkey on his head:

Some unfortunate soul got a ticket right before they closed the streets:

The house next door to where we were had this sign in their yard:

And in fact they did give away lots of coffee, cocoa and water.  Probably prayers, too!

There were plenty of bounce houses:

And I'm not sure what to make of this:

But lots of people just walked:

We ran into our good friend, Red.  I've known her for thirty years, at least:

But finally it was time for the parade.  And what magnificent animals to start it off!:

Look at those feet!:

Gorgeous animals.

They were followed by the Louisiana Tech Band:

Then the floats came.

People go crazy at parades.  It's all over cheap plastic beads from China and various other trinkets.  It's fun to reach up and snag some beads out of the air when a krewe member throws them to you.  Sometimes it's one string of beads, sometimes it's a tangled wad of beads.  Sometimes a krewe member will single you out, lean over the side and hand you something "special".  A guy on this float leaned over and handed me some beads in a plastic ziploc bag with a huge medallion on them and this guy standing next to me reached out and snagged it from my hand.

 I just looked incredulously at him, and said, "Dude!  Really?!?  He handed that to ME!"  He just laughed at me and lit a cigarette.  I thought about having a throw down right there in the middle of the road but didn't want to end up on the front page of the newspaper over some mardi gras beads.  I did step to the back of the crowd and just watched for a while, though.

This float was cool:

It's the year of the dragon:

These folks were fun to watch:

I loved the penguin float - their costumes were cool!:

Ahem.  The Democrat float?

Belly dancers!

The Mansfield High Marching Band:

The Seal Team Six float came by...:

...and it was a sobering moment:

The Saints float:

It was dark by the time the parade ended:

and by that time I was already back by the fire pit trying to thaw out!

We had a grand time despite the random jerk or two in the crowd and the cold!  Tomorrow is the Barkus and Meoux parade and then next week we'll forgo the Gemini parade in favor of  a Jerry Jeff Walker concert but we will catch the Highland Parade (and maybe catch a hot dog from the Krewe of Bar B Que!)

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Time to Mardi Gras!

Tomorrow is our first parade of the Mardi Gras season; there have been a couple of minor parades already but the first of the three "big" parades is tomorrow.  Here is my report from last year.  Mr. SIGIS and I will be there ready to roll!

We have three big parades here; first is the Centaur Parade.  It kicks off at 4:30 this year and begins at the Preston end (for you locals) and ends up downtown.  The route next week for the Gemini Parade will be reversed.  Our normal parade spot will be right at the beginning of the route tomorrow which is nice because it's supposed to get fairly cold tomorrow night.  If we play our beads right, we could be home just after dark.

The Barkus and Meoux parade is this weekend, too.

Mr. SIGIS and I will miss the Gemini parade this year because we have Jerry Jeff Walker tickets, but we'll be at the Highland Parade the next day.

We've already consumed one king cake this year.

I'll have to get up and get my Saturday duties handled early and we'll head out to people watch, walk the streets, sit by wood fires, eat way too much, and scream our lungs out for cheap plastic beads made in China while sipping beer. 

Stay tuned for photos.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Take a Trip to Shreveport's Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday is still a couple of days away but Mardi Gras 2011 is in the books for us.  Steve and I went to the Highland Parade today which is really our favorite parade.

North Louisiana has been doing Mardi Gras for a couple of decades now with a couple of "big" parades and some smaller parades.  I'd venture to say that the Highland Parade is our third "big" parade even though the media still acts like Gemini and Centaur is all there is.

The parade route for both Gemini and Centaur is the same.  People stake out their spots and usually return to the same spots each year.  The parade starts downtown, travels along the Red River along Clyde Fant Parkway, comes up Shreveport/Barksdale, then makes the turn along the bayou (aka the "duck pond") and ends in the Broadmoor neighborhood.

If you're reading this from somewhere other than the south, the whole concept of Mardi Gras might be baffling to you.  And with good reason when you think about it.  Why would anyone stand alongside the road for hours waiting for a bunch of floats blaring rock music to pass by?  Why would you stand on the side of the road and scream like a maniac, wave your hands, wear funny hats, and yell for cheap plastic beads made in China that will live in your garage for the rest of eternity?

Last weekend we had gorgeous weather - 70 degrees and clear blue sky.  I live within walking distance from the parade route and as soon as I stepped outside onto my deck last weekend I could smell the woodsmoke and the BBQ pits.  People gathered along the bayou all day getting their grills fired up and parade sites organized - putting out chairs, tables, flags, tents, music systems, all nestled amongst the city supplied porta potties.  Steve and I based ourselves at a friend's house along the route, across from the bayou, where there were three fire pits (even though it wasn't cold it helped with the mosquitoes!) and two grills going full time.  All along the route people were cooking boudin, burgers, hot dogs, red beans and rice, jambalaya, crawfish, and shrimp on a stick.  At the Centaur parade a church group with a U-Haul filled with bottled water was tossing water out to passers by.

Vendors with push carts move up and down the entire parade route selling novelty beads, scarves, feather boas, crazy hats, colorful plastic horns, and those nasty foil bags you stomp on and it smells like a stink bomb.

And the people - they're everywhere, walking, milling about, looking at each other and being seen.  People taking pictures, throwing footballs and frisbees, walking dogs, eating, drinking, listening to music, dancing...everywhere along the route there is music.  Not far from where we based ourselves there was a party with a live band in the front yard.  They were serving jello shots in plastic syringes.

By the time the parade gets to our end it's 7:30 and has been dark for an hour.  The parade announces itself with blaring sirens and the firetrucks blowing their horns.  You have to cover your ears or risk a busted eardrum.  The honor guard and flag comes through and people salute and are respectful as it passes, usually.  Then the floats and other parade units come through.  There are horse patrols, marching bands, hot rods, tow trucks, hay trailers with live bands performing, and the floats...

The floats are awesome!  Loud music blaring, loaded with dancing krewe members, lots of lights and color, the floats pass by while you yell and scream trying to get some poor krewe member who is busy untangling beads to notice you.  There are anywhere from 20 to 50 members on a float and with some 30 floats in a parade there are plenty of opportunities to catch things.

At the Centaur parade some guy leaned over the side of his float and handed Steve some beads with a medallion honoring policemen which was cool since Steve is in law enforcement.  We caught nerf balls and footballs in purple, gold and green Mardi Gras colors, lots of beads and cups and a few stuffed animals.  The real "treasures" are the beads with medallions on them.  The medallions depict certain float themes or krewes.

We have a friend that was on one of the floats who saw us and said, "You like Jimmy Buffet beads?!" and tossed us some beads with margaritas and parrots in them.  We got beads denoting the various branches of the military.  Some of the beads are huge and heavy; I've known people to get a black eye by getting hit in the face with beads while not looking! One year a float was throwing CDs until they figured out how dangerous that was - a friend of mine had to go get stitches after getting cut under the eye by a flying jewel case.

Because the Highland Parade is in the daylight you can really see everything.  We love the Krewe of BBQ; they throw hot dogs.  I have a friend in that krewe and she hits me every year!  When my kids were little, years ago, she leaned over the side of her float and handed us a long bamboo spear with purple and gold feathers on it.  What a treasure!  She gets at least one or two hot dogs to us each year.  I'd have take a picture of it for you this year, but Steve ate it before I could!  The hot dogs are in foil pouches with a mustard and relish packet tucked inside!

Other floats throw, besides beads, moon pies, yo-yo's, cups, stuffed animals, candy, and other trinkets.  We got a Highland Jazz & Blues Fest poster!

During the Highland Parade today Steve and I were up front catching stuff (and passing most of it off to the kids around us) but once the hot dog float came through we moved to the back just to watch.  I opened a beer and he ate his hot dog and we just watched the last half of the parade but even still we were pelted with beads.  There was this cute older man near us  and he and his wife were racking up!  Almost every float threw something at him!  They were having a great time!

As I was sipping on my beer, looking up at a float, a handful of tangled beads came sailing toward me but they caught on the power line, whipped around and stuck, balled up on the line forever.

The parades last about an hour on average and when its over the trash along the route is incredible.  Just incredible.  Bottles, cans, plastic bottles, broken beads sparkling in the headlights, various wrappers, broken glass, crawfish heads, broken plastic cups, etc.  By midnight, it's gone.  The cleanup brigade comes through and the route is pristine by the next morning.

We came home, I leaned over the table and pulled my beads over my head and emptied my plastic bag.  We'll keep the cool medallion beads and give the regular ones to Milly who gives them to her customers.  Steve will eat his Moon Pie. I caught a big container of mini-Tootise Rolls which I'll eat and I caught some Skittles for the Teenager!

And so, for us, Mardi Gras 2011 is in the books.  We skipped the Dog & Cat parade, i.e. Barkus and Meoux, because the weather was dicey and we were worn out from the Centaur Parade the night before.  And what is one to do with all these beads, really?  I've tried for years to be creative and think of something to do with them.  One guy told me today he hangs them on his ficus tree.  Another said he covers the dirt of his houseplants with them.  Some people make wreaths out of them.  I once saw a joke that said, "You know you're from the South when you have to reinforce the floor in your attic to store Mardi Gras beads."  This is not far from the truth.  I have boxes and boxes of them in my garage.  Surely there's a good use for them?  I just don't know what it is.  It sure is fun when you make eye contact with someone on a float, they point at you and throw, and you snag them out of the air while he looks back and gives you a big thumbs up!

Until next year, laissez les bon temps rouler!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Krewe of Centaur Parade

We did the Centaur parade last night. As we do each year, Steve and I walked down to the parade route from my house; it's maybe a mile. But it's MUCH easier than dealing with the blocked streets and crazy traffic after the parade in an attempt to get home. We parked ourselves at my friend Harriett's house and that was our base for the rest of the evening.

Harriett, as always, had tons of food. She had hot dogs, grilled sausages, hamburgers, a cabbage/Ramen noodle salad that was awesome, all kinds of sweets - cookies and cakes, chips and dips, just about anything you'd want. Somebody was always manning the grill.

I like to walk around a little and see who I know and I also like to look at all the crazy get-ups people wear. The little children are always cute and I saw one kid with a super cool balloon which was very festive. One party had a cool little train for the kids and this lady would load up and drive them all in a big circular route around the street, come back, drop them off and load up again. There was a huge turn out for the parade this year and I'll attribute that in part to the wonderful weather. It was warm in the afternoon but chilled off a little after dark but by parade's end we had a few sprinkles.

In this year's parade there were 32 floats and five bands. I actually didn't catch as much stuff this year as I usually do and there were a couple of reasons for that. One was because I spent part of the parade with a co-worker's one-year old who was parked safely back from the fray in her stroller. Ashley and Robert had a second child up near the floats so she could catch things and so I sat with the little one and we watched from a peaceful distance! She enjoyed the loud music and was cute. Also, when I stand next to Steve, he is so tall he catches everything so I don't stand a chance, but it's all good because he just gives them to me anyway! And finally, we are near the end of the route and some floats are either out of stuff by then or are slowing down. When it started to shower near the end, we packed up and started moving toward home, so we didn't actually work the last seven or eight floats for trinkets. No matter - I have BOXES AND BOXES in the garage of beads! It's just fun catching 'em!

Anyway, we had a big time. I was sending pictures back to my blog from my iPhone but the battery life on those things is "slack" as the Teenager says, and so between keeping tabs with him and taking and emailing photos, my battery got low well before parade end.

Today is the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux parade - creatures of all kinds - down on the riverfront. Then next weekend we have two big parades - the Gemini on Saturday and my favorite Highland parade on Sunday. I'll be exhausted!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mardi Gras Weekend No. 1

This weekend begins our Mardi Gras festivities! Tomorrow is the Centaur parade and the Barkus and Meoux Parade is Sunday. Luckily, I have Monday off for President's Day because after being sick all week, two days of parading is definitely going to set me back!

The weather is PERFECT for the parade; tonight is warm and humid. Down by the river, the fog is rolling in. Steve and I drove to Nicky's for dinner and the Red River had a layer of fog hovering above it. Later we drove along the bayou on the way to Albertsons (had to buy a new Mardi Gras t-shirt for the Teenager to wear to work tomorrow) and the fog was a lot thicker down there.

All along the parade route people are already camped out in R-Vs, campers, tents, trucks and cars. My house is probably a mile or less from the parade route and when I took Checkers out in my backyard I could smell the wood fires burning already. By morning it will really be strong and by noon I'll smell food cooking!

We have some friends coming over for the parade. I'm cooking jambalaya and we'll walk down to the parade route whenever they close the streets, probably around 3:00. The parade starts at 4;30 downtown and will be at least 7 or 7:30 before it gets to our end.

Sunday we'll go down to the Riverfront and look at all the creatures in the dog/cat parade! Then next weekend we'll do it all over again with the Gemini parade and then the Highland parade - which I LOVE!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mardi Gras in Shreveport

It's Mardi Gras season in my neck of the woods. One of the first things I like to do each year is to go down to Julie Anne's bakery and pick up a King Cake!

For my money, Julie Anne's makes the best local King Cake. They far surpass the ones you can pick up in a grocery store. Ferrier's Rolling in the Dough makes a great one too, but I'm an impulse buyer, and to get a King Cake from Ferrier's you have to order ahead. At Julie Anne's I can just walk in and pick one up.

The traditional King Cake, for the uninitiated, is much like a sweet roll. But at Julie Anne's you can also get a cream cheese filling, or raspberry, pralines & cream, to name a few. Traditionally, whoever gets the baby in their slice is supposed to bring the King Cake the next year. Doesn't matter around here because I always buy one whether I get the baby or not!

I'm looking forward to our parades this year, too. On Febrary 14 is the Centaur Parade, followed the next day by the Barkus and Meoux Parade on the Riverfront. Steve and I love the "dog and cat" parade, as we call it, though there are many more creatures than dogs and cats. The next weeked is the Krewe of Gemini Parade and then on Sunday will be the Krewe of Highland parade. We LOVE the Highland parade .

The Highland parade is a neighborhood parade but don't let that phrase fool you - it's huge. It's very family friendly and after the parade is a gathering in Columbia Park which goes on into the hours. We always gather more throws at this parade than any other. Steve likes to catch the hot dogs tossed out by the Krewe of Bar-b-Que!

The Centaur and Gemini parades follow the same long, snaking route from downtown, down the riverfront, and ending up in my neck of the woods along the bayou. We are about a mile from the parade route at my house, easy walking distance, but from my backyard deck on parade days, I can smell the woodfires and cookouts in progress hours before the parade comes. We always walk down early in the day and mingle around, and I always run into someone I haven't seen in ages.

I love the fun of Mardi Gras and I just shake my head every year wondering why in the world we stand out in the freezing cold (sometimes), suffer bodily injuries (sometimes) , battle through crowds (often), and scream our lungs out (always) to get a bunch of brightly colored plastic beads made in China. Because it's fun! I'm ready!