New Orleans. We finally made it through the panhandle of Florida in time for Easter, which, like all holidays in New Orleans, means a parade. The timing was purely accidental, but I’m endlessly thankful that we were able to spend a holiday in New Orleans, festivals being one of the city’s lifebloods.
And did we ever catch a good time to visit New Orleans. It turned out that we arrived just in time for Easter and the multitude of parades and events that happen during that time. There are kids Easter egg hunts, the gay Easter parade, the traditional Easter parade, and there’s even one more that slips my mind right now.
We rolled into town the day before, so after unpacking and settling in, we slept and gathered energy for the next day. It started with a small, neighborhood Easter egg hunt.
This was not a big event, just a neighborhood gathering at a local park for an Easter egg hunt and to be social. Honestly, it was the best way to start the day. I’ve always wanted to live part time in New Orleans and as this was held in the St. Claude Parish, we were able to pretend like we lived here. The people were nice, there were eggs and kids galore, plus almost everyone dressed up in fancy clothes. Including this guy:
The neighborhood itself was really neat and certainyl an up-and-coming one. I assume that a lot of that had to do with cheap buildings after Hurricane Katrina, as the St. Claude district was hit pretty hard and most of the people we saw were not hurting financially. It felt like gentrified New Orleans and I suspect that people with money being able to buy and repair these homes played a large part in this effort.
That said, it was restored very well. Assuming I am right, I in no way mean to diminish the pain that people felt from losing their homes. Please don’t read it that way. I would have loved to walk through whatever existed there before the damage, but this is what we walked through on the way to the park.
It’s just gorgeous stuff and part of what makes me love New Orleans so much. The character in not just this neighborhood, but all of them drives right into my soul. For perspective, we stayed in Gentilly Terrace and while the buildings were not as lively as the ones in St. Claude, I loved them just the same.
Chris Owens Easter Parade
Easily the most famous Easter parade in New Orleans is the one thrown by Chris Owens, a famous singer and dancer who started the parade in the 1980s. Like all parades, it’s an excuse to dress up, let your hair down, and enjoy the wilder side of life. There were floats, bands, beads, and everything we could hope for.
I was so happy to take it all in, since New Orleans is all about the parades and I’ll never, EVER go there during Mardis Gras.
Fin loved all the free stuff, too. He picked up a stuffed penguin, beads, and all sorts of weird stuff that made him happy. Plus, he really enjoyed the bands and most of the floats.
The Gay Easter Parade
Easter egg hunt and famous parade checked, we wandered around town until it was time for the gay Easter parade in the afternoon. We were mostly paraded out by then, but figured that we were there just the once, so we should check it out. It was a smaller parade and close to Louis Armstrong Park, so we figured that it was worth swinging by. And it was.
By the bye, apologies if I mixed up some parade photos. I’m writing this pretty far after the fact and everything blurs as time marches on.
Louis Armstrong Park
After the parade, we walked through Louis Armstrong Park since we were so close by. It’s just a great park where something is always happening and the history of the town lives on. As it was a Sunday, the weekly meet up on people dancing to African drums in the slave corner were performing, carrying on a long-lived tradition of slaves coming together to find some sort of community. The merging of different rhythmic traditions of different areas of Africa also played a massive part in the rythmic formations of jazz.
Even without that history, it’s just a good place to walk around and people watch. The statues of famous jazz players dotting the landscape help, too.
And of course, there’s the food. We had to grab some red beans and rice, as well as the South’s second-most famous donut.
But most importantly, there was the music. One of my all time favorite things to do in cities is wander and the street music of New Orleans makes it one of the most enjoyable cities to do it in. Day or night there is someone playing something, though for my money night is where it’s at. Oh, and forget about Bourbon Street, Marigny is the place to go for me.
One of the things that I love most about Marginy is that every time I’ve been there, there is some awesome brass band playing.