happy carnival!

yes, it is now carnival season, officially. i’m always amazed every year how this town glides so effortlessly from christmas to new year’s to poof, now it’s carnival season, without missing a beat. and this year it will be such a long season – mardi gras isn’t until march 8th!

last night i decided to take in some of the 12th night/epiphany revelry which marks the official start of the season by scooting downtown to see the krewe de jeanne d’arc parade. i think this was their 3rd year parading, but for some reason i’ve never made it down to see it. i went solo, hoping to run into someone i knew, and voila, i did. in fact, i ran into lots of folks i knew, which was nice.

my photos aren’t the best – my now very old digital camera doesn’t do great with nighttime shots using flash – but you get the idea. joan was lovely on horseback wearing her chain mail, making her way through the crowds.

and she had several maids of honor who followed behind her on beautiful clydesdales. god those animals are gorgeous. i was impressed with how calm all the horses remained sandwiched in such tight crowds, particularly when the parade turned onto st. phillip from chartres towards decatur.

though these small walking parades are not the visual spectacles nor sensory experiences of the larger traditional krewe parades, they are so much more creative in many ways, particularly with throws. i did not score any of the coveted handmade items, but was happy to have ended up with some joan of arc matches and a lovely krewe card. i like what it says on the back:

“on this day of birth for joan of arc, the maid of orleans, we celebrate the rebirth of new orleans. we walk on this night to reflect on the past year and rejuvenate for the new year. we honor all those who have fallen by the sword, fire, and flood. we burn candles to brighten this twelfth night, lighting the way for mardi gras season. joan of arc, saint, warrior, leader, and honorary maid of new orleans, we thank you for shining your golden light on us and ask you to bless new orleans in 2011, on this, the anniversary of the 599th year of your birth.”

guess they’ll have a super rockin’ parade next year to celebrate her 600th!

by the time the parade reached its end, at the golden joan of arc statue by the french market, of course, the crowds had swelled to quite a large number. i wish there would have been more organization to the “party” at the end of the parade, as it seemed most folks were just standing around wondering what was supposed to happen next… and after about a half an hour, the crowds dissipated. but it was fine. i enjoyed my joan of arc experience, recalling fondly past moments with both the lesbian avengers and queer nation in the 1990s when we claimed joan as one of our own via street actions. if only her statue had been in its present location for those events – they would have gotten a lot more attention! (she used to be located over by the world trade center and rivergate, before harrah’s was built – it was moved in 1999.)

sadly, i ate no king cake yesterday. i’m hoping for some on saturday in tandem with the saints playoff game vs. seattle. but it was still a lovely kick-off to carnival season.