Mardi Gras energy trumps Mother Nature's cold snap
NEW ORLEANS | Pete Fountain, clarinet in hand and looking dapper in a white tuxedo and fedora trimmed in gold, kicked off Mardi Gras with his Half Fast Marching Club" the way they have for 50 years: with beads and jazz.
We're slower than we were, and older than we were," Fountain, 79, said with a laugh. But on Mardi Gras none of it matters."
Tuesday, the final day of Carnival, was sunny and cold with high temperatures hanging around 50 degrees. That didn't do much to chill a party that has been rolling since the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl Feb. 7.
I have plenty of antifreeze with me if I need it," said Jessie Grace, 57, playfully waving a flask from his pocket. If Mardi Gras doesn't warm you up, nothing will."
Grace and about 30 family members and friends staked out their spot on St. Charles Avenue at 2 a.m., setting up chairs and tables. By 7 a.m. gumbo was cooking in a big pot and ribs were on the barbecue grill.
Many along the parade route wore Saints jerseys. One group of cyclists was costumed as flying pigs, which long-suffering fans had always said they would see if the Saints won the big game.
Hell froze over," said Sandra Bell, 51, shivering under a blanket. Can't you feel it?"
It's a big, big deal," said Glynn Brown, 55, who joked he had taken out a second mortgage to pay for the Saints gear he and his family were decked out in. But Mardi Gras is our heritage."