With cooler weather in Georgia and a to-do list of projects to catch up on, we've been content to spend time at home in recent months. But warmer temperatures have propelled us back on the road, this time in search of a little blues music. On the way to New Orleans, we spent a few days with family in Alabama, including a visit to our niece Gina's home in Mississippi on Saturday night.
In addition to seven of sister Jeanne's grandchildren, our nephew Steven was there, along with a half dozen kids from the neighborhood. With that many kids together and a massive dress-up collection in the house, a funky fashion show was inevitable. Even they guys were good-naturedly drawn into the parade, which came in five or six waves of kids ages two to thirteen. Everyone except two-year-old Layson changed into a new costume for the next set. And each show ended with a dance and group photo.
Kids being kids, and knowing their adoring audience was eagerly awaiting the next show, they tossed costume pieces here, there and yon as they prepared to wow the indulgent adults with yet another fashion phenomenon. By the end of the final parade, the playroom and several adjacent spaces looked as if a tornado had blasted its way through the dress-up closet. When the extravaganza finally wound down, the kids were pretty pooped from all the pomp and pageantry. As soon as each one's head hit the pillow, sleep came quickly and morning arrived much too soon to suit these sultans of chic.
The following day we bid the family farewell and headed south to New Orleans, one of numerous birthplaces of the blues we plan to visit on this sojourn. Just short of the I-10 exit for our hotel in Kenner, a red sea of brake lights appeared ahead, prompting us to exit in hopes of catching a quieter parallel surface street for the final couple of miles. Little did we know, we had just thrust ourselves into the aftermath of Metarie's Irish Italian Parade, the final event in the New Orleans area celebration of St. Patrick's Day.
As we crept east in the logjam on Veterans Memorial Boulevard, we noticed a debris field of growing proportions in the westbound lanes of the divided street. Finally we found a place to park on Aurora and went to investigate. In fine New Orleans tradition, the street was littered with thousands of strings of beads along with foods that Irish and Italian parade participants had tossed from their floats—potatoes, cabbage, oranges, carrots, and cucumbers. Assorted beer and soda cans, cups, and other debris joined in the mix.
According to the friendly members of the NOPD we chatted with, the sanitation department's clean-up is almost as good a show as the parade itself. First come the guys on foot with leaf blowers, moving all the debris to the middle of the street; then the sweepers conglomerate the debris to a position where front end loaders remove it to trucks. Within a couple of hours, the trash-strewn streets look as they did before the parade began.
How the people attending the parade feel may be another story based on the content of the litter left behind. Like our kids from the fashion show, they may be feeling a bit of post-parade blues. But in both situations the clean-up crews feel the real brunt. Luckily, this does not appear to be a long-lived strain of the blues.
We'll spend the next couple of days in New Orleans chasing other forms of the blues. Unfortunately, we haven't done much planning, but we're hoping serendipity and circumstance will be kind to us.
- Beads in the street: 239,165
- Oranges in the street: 2,781
- Potatoes: 3,612
- Clean-up crew: 126
Shop Front Sign of the Day (Grove Hill AL)