Mardi Gras Weekend – Lundi Gras, Monday, February 23, 2009


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Dianne the Queen is ready for Orpheus! 2-23-09

Dianne the Queen is ready for Orpheus! 2-23-09

Friends:

Monday is Lundi Gras (Fat Monday). It is the night of one of my favorite parades, Orpheus, a fiber-optically lit parade that boasts stunning floats. But rolling first was the Krewe of Proteus. Proteus is known in Greek mythology as the “Shepherd of the Ocean.” He was a god who acted as herdsman of Poseidon’s seals and had the ability to change shape at will. Proteus is New Orleans’ second oldest parading organization, founded in 1882. Led by the captain on horseback, the parade features 25 riding lieutenants.

Proteus Lieutenant rides on horse 2-23-09

Proteus Lieutenant rides on horse 2-23-09

The theme of Proteus was “Maginogion: The Romance of Wales.” The chassis of the floats date back to the 1880s. Here is Proteus, in his seashell. His identity is never revealed to the public.

Proteus in his Seashell 2-23-09

Proteus in his Seashell 2-23-09

Lighted throws included illuminated medallions and flashing seahorses (I caught one!). The floats were beautiful.

Proteus float 2-23-09

Proteus float 2-23-09

Check out this chariot!

Proteus chariot rider 2-23-09

Proteus chariot rider 2-23-09

After Proteus rolled, it was time for Orpheus. Orpheus was founded by Harry Connick, Jr. in 1994. Named after the son of the Greek Muse Calliope and the Greek God Apollo, Orpheus is a musical god whose music was so beautiful that wild animals ceased their hunting, mountains bowed, seas stopped spraying, and trees bent near to listen when he sang.

Orpheus begins 2-23-09

Orpheus begins 2-23-09

This year’s theme was “The Whimsical World of How and Why.” Each float was themed after a pour quoi story. The krewe boasts 1,200 male and female members with floats created by Blaine Kern artists.

Orpheus - Celebrity Joan Rivers rides 2-23-09

Orpheus - Celebrity Joan Rivers rides 2-23-09

Flambeaux lit the way with their illumating fire. In the old days, before parade were lit by street lights and the high tech methods of modern times, flambeaux helped illuminate the parade route with their torches. It is tradition to throw coins to the flambeaux as they pass. Today, however, they prefer dollar bills handed to them. I guess that’s the price of inflation!

Flambeaux, a New Orleans tradition 2-23-09

Flambeaux, a New Orleans tradition 2-23-09

The Trojan Horse is one of Orpheus’ mainstays. It is a gigantic version I imagine rivals the original!

Orpheus - Trojan float 2-23-09

Orpheus - Trojan float 2-23-09

Orpheus is now considered a “super krewe,” following in the footsteps of Endymion (Saturday night) and Bacchus (Sunday night). This Monday night parade has nearly doubled from its original 700 riders.

Orpheus crowds beg for beads 2-23-09

Orpheus crowds beg for beads 2-23-09

The “storied” floats were spectacular. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the names of all the floats but I do have a few! This one is “Why the Moon Bewitches.”

Orpheus - Why the Moon Bewitches 2-23-09

Orpheus - Why the Moon Bewitches 2-23-09

As a storyteller, I was fascinated by the number of stories I had not heard of, like this one.

Orpheus - How Learning Was Instituted 2-23-09

Orpheus - How Learning Was Instituted 2-23-09

I hung out with family and friends in the DOD (Department of Defense) grandstand on the corner of St. Charles and Poydras. It was the perfect spot to catch the parade. My stepdad is retired Navy so he and his family are granted access to the stands.

Orpheus - Why Flowers Bloom float 2-23-09

Orpheus - Why Flowers Bloom float 2-23-09

The Orpheus parade riders are very generous with their throws, throwing elegant beads and stuffed animals such as Leviathan, the mammoth dragon that roars onto the Orpheus parade route every year.

Orpheus - Head of Leviathan 2-23-09

Orpheus - Head of Leviathan 2-23-09

Here is the tail end of that monstrous float!

Orpheus - Tail end of Leviathan 2-23-09

Orpheus - Tail end of Leviathan 2-23-09

I love this float! It’s a great story too!

Orpheous - How Salt was Formed float 2-23-09

Orpheus - How Salt was Formed float 2-23-09

The Smokey Mary train is another Orpheus tradition. This float appears in every Orpheus parade. The train’s headlight is bright!

Orpheus - Smokey Mary Train float 2-23-09

Orpheus - Smokey Mary Train float 2-23-09

I would love to know how the camel got his hump, especially since there is a genie on the front of the float!

Orpheus - How the Camel Got His Hump float 2-23-09

Orpheus - How the Camel Got His Hump float 2-23-09

As usual, the Orpheus parade was spectacular. One day, I hope to ride in this magnificent parade.

Orpheus - How Transportation was Ordained float 2-23-09

Orpheus - How Transportation was Ordained float 2-23-09

Until next time…

Warmly, Dianne