by Chuck Perkins If your American dream is painted on a canvas Neatly folded in the corner of Norman Rockwell’s mind- New Orleans is a hurricane beating down your coast
Dear Mr. Bead Thrower, I understand that beads are an essential part of the Mardi Gras festivities and that parade goers are expected to begin honing their bead catching skills at an early age. I also understand, and partake in, the thrill of the bead catch. While I don't lift up my shirt like some girls to increase my chances, I do yell, wave my arms a lot and point at myself, as in you want to throw those beads to me mister. I admit that I get excited when I catch a bead, no matter how ordinary, and this excitement increases when the bead in question is oversized, has a medallion attached to it or lights up. While I have not had the pleasure of riding on a float and throwing colored objects at people, I imagine it can't be all that hard. You have all year to prepare for standing up on a trailer covered in paper and glitter, and all year to decide what your bead strategy will be. Will you toss lightly to children lined up along the barricades? Will you use the up and over technique so that beads drop down lightly into the crowd? Will you
Boats, beads and beaches distinguish Mardi Gras along the coast of the Deep South from parades and revelry found in major cities. For a different experience this year, check out some of these parades: Louisiana Cypremort Point, Krewe of Sippers Parade, Feb. 13, 1 p.m., Bayview to the landing Grand Isle Independent Mardi Gras Parade, Feb. 14, 5:30 p.m. along Hwy. 1 Mississippi Biloxi Children's Parade, Feb. 13, noon; Krewe of Neptune, Feb. 16, 1 p.m. Diamondhead, Krewe of Diamondhead Parade, Feb. 13, noon Gulfport, Krewe of Gemini, Feb 13, 2 p.m. & 6 p.m., Feb. 16 Pass Christian, St. Paul Carnival Association, Feb. 14, noon Bay St. Louis, Krewe of Diamonds, Feb. 16, 1 p.m. Alabama Gulf Shores, Mardi Gras Parade, Feb. 16, 10 a.m., Hwy. 59 from bottom of Intracoastal Canal Bridge to Main Beach; Lulu's Celebration & Parade, Feb. 16, 10 a.m.-until Orange Beach Mardi Gras Parade, Feb. 16, 1:30 at Wintzell's on Perdido Beach Blvd. to Hwy. 161 Florida Pensacola, Grand Mardi Gras Parade, Feb. 13, 2 p.m., downtown Pensacola; Krewe of Wrecks, Feb. 14, 2 p.m., Pensacola Beach; Priscus Procession & Ball, Feb. 16, 5 p.m., Seville Quarter Texas Galveston, Krewe d'Esprit Rosaire Parade, Feb. 13, 11 a.m., Kempner Park to Holy Rosary Catholic Church; Z Krewe 16th Z Processional, Feb.
I can remember eating a few banana-flavored MoonPies as a kid, but can honestly say I haven't had one since. Not so for the people of Mobile, Ala. On New Year's Eve, the MoonPie madness kicks off with the annual Moonpie Over Mobile. When the clock strikes midnight, a 600-pound electronic MoonPie rises above the city skyline to signal the start of the carnival season. In 2008, the city partnered with founder of the MoonPie, Chattanooga Bakery, to serve up the world's largest marshmallow sandwich, weighing in at 55 pounds and four feet in diameter. The bakery also handed out 5,000 of the treats. In Mobile, the MoonPie obsession continues through Fat Tuesday, as the sandwiches are a popular throw for krewes. Chattanooga Bakery's website explains how the sandwich made its way to Mobile from Tennessee. "If you've ever caught a MoonPie from a parade float on the Gulf Coast, you have the 70's to thank," the site says. "Early on, paraders threw Cracker Jack boxes to hungry revelers, but those didn't feel so hot in the side of the head." According to mardigrasdigest.com, Cracker Jacks were banned as throws in 1972, and two years later the Maids of Mirth began throwing
Photo by Keyhole Photo Mardi Gras officially began in Mobile, Alabama, in 1703, a full 15 years before the city of New Orleans was even founded. Mobile's first masked ball, Masque de la Mobile, was held the following year and the first parade in 1711. Sixteen men pushed a cart carrying a papier mache cow's head through town. Mobile Mardi Gras has evolved and expanded since its rustic beginnings, but mystery and intrigue still surround the celebration, with secret krewes and masked figures often reveling behind closed doors. The public side of Mobile Mardi Gras has grown enormously since that first 16-member parade, with 41 parades on the schedule for this year and almost a million people estimated to attend the festivities. After moving back home to Mobile from Ohio, photographer Meggan Haller and her husband, Jeff, a native of Nebraska, decided to start documenting Mardi Gras in Mobile. Owners of Keyhole Photo, the couple has spent several years photographing parades, pageants, balls, bands and a few behind the scenes goings on. Photo by Keyhole Photo Photo by Keyhole Photo "There's a lot of different ways to celebrate Mardi Gras here," says Meggan, "and I'm fascinated by all of the different aspects." "Some are very