It's been overshadowed by the 2008 election, but today is also Mardi Gras, in which New Orleans is partying and having a good time.
Despite its struggles to survive and stay in the nation's consciousness post-Katrina, the city is recovering, although not as fast as I and others would like it to.
In case you're curious, here's the link to the Times-Picayune's Mardi Gras section.
Last year I posted articles about how the city's Black krewes and social clubs are fighting to not only stay alive with members scattered all over the country, but hold on to their history as well.
This year's Krewe of Zulu king, Frank Boutte is a native New Orleanian who has done something only one other Zulu king has done. He's only the second king since 1909 to reside (in Houston) outside of New Orleans. The other one was Louis Armstrong in 1949.
There are even gay Mardi Gras events as well. The lower French Quarter is the home of the Gay Mardi Gras and it's here that you'll see the more outrageous costumes on Mardi Gras Day, or in some cases, the lack of them.
Mardi Gras isn't just a one day event in New Orleans. It all begins on January 6th and continues until Midnight on Fat Tuesday, which can fall at any time from early February through early March. Parties, parades and balls are happening all over the New Orleans metro area through that period.
The last time I went in 1990, I stayed with my godsister Angela in Marrero. I caught two West Bank parades Saturday morning that passed within two blocks of their house before we battled a two hour traffic jam trying to get across the Greater New Orleans bridge from the West Bank for the Endymion parade that started at 7 PM in Downtown New Orleans. There was another West Bank parade the next day.
But that was BK (before Katrina).
The exact timing of Mardi Gras is actually based on the church calendar with the date being driven by when Easter Sunday falls, which is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring. The dates of Fat Tuesday for the next few years are:
2009: February 24
2010: February 16
2011: March 8
2012: February 21
2013: February 12
2014: March 4
2015: February 17
2016: February 9
2017: February 26
As I mentioned, parades roll through the streets of New Orleans for several weeks before Mardi Gras Day. On Fat Tuesday, they begin early in the morning with the Krewe of Zulu, followed by Rex, which is followed by the popular truck parades.
Happy Mardi Gras!