In Which We Go To a Mardi Gras Parade and Support the LYS

Here's the second installment in the trip to New Orleans series. I actually wrote this last week and forgot to publish it. *sigh* I wish I could click my wooly-socked heels right now and be transported back. Especially when tomorrow is supposed to start with a "wintry mix" rush hour. (Mental note to brain: I LOVE the cold, I LOVE the cold, etc etc)

Most people go to Mardi Gras parades to get treasures. You go and stand in a crowd of a bunch of like-minded people, put your hands up in the air and yell "Throw me something, mister!" (although when there are also women riding the floats, it's better to just go with the unisex 'ya'll" instead of mister). And the maskers on the floats throw all kinds of beads and trinkets into the masses and you either jump high to catch them as they fly through the air, or scramble on the ground for the things that weren't caught. It's very addicting, and you see people of all backgrounds and ages, yelling, catching and scrambling together during this magical time of year.

But some people go to a parade to see and wave to a loved one who just happens to be riding on one of the floats. We had seats in the grandstands at the New Orleans city hall, which gave us a perch almost at eye level with the riders.

The weather was very dreary and cold but that didn't dampen anyone's spirits. I forgot to have someone take a picture, but did a PDK on the chemo cap and got in several rows before the first police cars wailed down the street, announcing the start of the parade.

The king and queen ride at the front of the parade. They stop at city hall for a toast, speeches and to receive the keys to the city.

The lovely Queen Kristy made a very gracious speech, clearly enjoying every moment of her reign.

She *daintily* slurped down her champagne, threw the glass to the ground, gave her best beauty pageant wave and was off for the rest of her ride.

The king and queen are then followed by a bunch of floats - usually anywhere from 12 to 24. these floats carry the members of the krewe who choose to mask and throw beads and stuff to the crowds. Many adult beverages are involved, which has a significant correlation with the amount of their generosity.

We had a great catching day up in the stands. I think it helps to have connections because I scored some highly coveted huge pink pearls and flashing light ducky beads and I didn't even have to flash the tata's to get them!

When the parade ended, the party moved from the streets to Tipitinas in the French Quarter. There was lots of beer, cajun food and, of course, dancing. Lots and lots of dancing.

Queen Kristy eats Energizer batteries for breakfast.

The queen and her mom take a brief pause from dancing. I was out there most of the time and my muscles didn't forgive me for the next 2 days.

Conveniently, we were just a few blocks away from the yarn shop I most wanted to visit on the trip:

The chemo cap would have loved to stay longer, to shop and visit and get knitted on while talking to the delightful owner, Jill. Sadly, we could only stay long enough to buy an appropriate souvenir and have a brief visit since Mr. C was parked very illegally in his role as supportive husband and yarn enabler. I love this guy!

The Quarter Stitch is located just off Jackson Square, close to the cathedral. It is located in a building that dates back to the early eighteenth century and is just loaded with atmosphere. Someone on Ravelry referred to it as a "yarn brothel" which is an excellent description. The owner is extremely personable and helpful. There was a delightful woman from Spain in there visiting and knitting, who struck up a conversation. It turns out she had had one of my nieces in her Spanish class, and also knew my uncle when she lived in Lafayette, La. New Orleans is really such a small town that you almost never meet a stranger. That's one of the things I love and miss so much.

I had already decided that I wanted to purchase yarn in Mardi Gras colors. Initially I was disappointed that she didn't have any local hand-painted or handspun yarn, but I'm more than happy with my selection. She wrapped it all up so beautifully, and threw in a handful of bright pink heart-shaped confetti - so much fun!

And when the eye candy is unwrapped, there's more eye candy inside...

Some gorgeous, lusciously decadent Malabrigo, in the traditional purple, green and gold of Mardi Gras. I haven't discovered any yarn shops in Kansas that carry much of a selection of Malabrigo, so I was delighted to find a large selection to choose from. Right now, I haven't a clue what I'll make that will incorporate these colors and not look tacky. All suggestions will be welcome.

The word lagniappe means "a little something extra". It is an old and very charming New Orleans custom for shopkeepers to offer lagniappe to their customers, such as throwing in an extra beignet if you ordered 1 dozen, or including some Mardi Gras beads in the purchase of a king cake. As if the festive wrapping wasn't lagniappe enough, Jill also threw in a free scarf pattern of her own design. That really made me feel at home. and I can never have enough scarf patterns!

Now that I know where this little gem of a shop is located, I'll definitely make a longer visit a top priority on my trip down.
I still have lots of pictures to share. After all the parties and balls and parades were finished, I took my camera and we went to see some of the places that were special to us BK (before Katrina). We've kept track of the rebuilding (or not, in many cases) and I'll show you what the people of New Orleans are still trying to deal with in the wake of Katrina.


Lynn said...

Yarn brothel, I wanna go!!!! A place to be *bad* and yet not break any laws!! LOL

And that queen is young! They always have energy. She probably doesnt have any kids either; those things suck the energy right out of you!!

Looks like you had a great time!

Maria said...

Wow! Mardi Gras sounds fun!
GUESS WHAT? Thanks so much for the swap package! I just LOVE everything! Especially Frankie Jr., my new blah buster buddy! Oh and Frankie loves him too!! I will post pics in a while! Thanks you! You are awesome!!!!

Dianne said...

You must be so proud of your lovely niece! Love the yarn! I think the lagniappe idea needs to spread across the country. We could all use a little something extra now and then.

Anne said...

Oh that looks like a lovely trip!! Thank you for the play by play on the parade - I've never been or heard much so I really enjoyed reading it =)

Sonya said...

How exciting!

I love those colors. Whatever you make will be wonderful.