That magical sound. Bum Ba bum Ba! The call of the tuba that is familiar to ALL New Orleanians, used to gather the crowd, and sometimes the band too, for the parade is about to begin! Bum BA BUM Ba!
We’ll be hearing that sound a lot over the next month since Carnival season is upon us and the number of street parades will increase exponentially. You are sure to hear Bum BA bum Ba at every parade – uptown, downtown, back o’town, all around town! The street parade is a unifying force in this city and everybody knows that call.
In the Big Easy, you are encouraged to participate in a parade – less observers more participants. At carnival time you need to kick it up a notch. From now until Fat Tuesday it is a good idea to have a few accessories handy because you never know when you’ll hear the call of the tuba and need a giant pocket watch to hang around you neck or a feather for your cap. So grab your tiara (and perhaps your flask) to take it the streets.
The big Mardi Gras parades that begin rolling about two weeks before Fat Tuesday are awesome – day or night. However, it is the smaller, often whacky, walking clubs and krewes that are a blast to follow. There are a number of ways to find out about these whacky parades. There is the year round second-line and Mardi Gras Indian calendar maintained by Action Jackson of WWOZ radio – “Your source for second line route sheets, Mardi Gras Indian events, and more” (by the way, keep your radio dial locked to WWOZ – 90.7 FM).
Another excellent source is Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras guide, available in print and on-line. In this mainstream publication, much of the information remains the same from year to year – the history doesn’t change – but the updates and special features provides excellent insights and resources. Take note of the listing of Mardi Gras Day walking clubs. These colorful groups take it to the streets early and are a blast to parade along with.
But that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves; there are a lot of parades that keep us rolling right up to Fat Tuesday. Look for these outlandish groups….Krewe du Vieux (with a new route in 2015), Krewe of Cork (for the wino of course), Petit Rex, Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus (also on a new route), 2.2 Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Divine Protectors, Krewe of Red Beans, and many many more.
Many of these parades are listed in various publications and on-line calendars, However, your best source for these and other off-the-beaten-path parades and happenings comes form word of mouth. Yes, in New Orleans people still talk to each other on the street. In fact, we encourage it. We are concerned for those who don’t talk to others on the street.
Most New Orleanians have a favorite Carnival tradition, and enjoy sharing it with others. As you discover these unique traditions you will likely make new friends, certainly enjoy good food and music, and perhaps make your own Carnival tradition. In New Orleans, you only need to do something once and it will become a tradition. Once that happens, call Key to NOLA, you’ll be looking to relocate to the Crescent sooner than you think.
And when you hear that Bum BA bum BA, grab your whistle and your marching band hat and TAKE IT TO THE STREET!
Every thing lovely,
Out and About is a monthly blog by Leslie Compton of Every Thing Lovely, a special event and creative consulting team, and is sponsored by Key to NOLA Properties, a full service real estate brokerage firm specializing in furnished rental properties in New Orleans. Key to NOLA Properties and Every Thing Lovely have joined forces to provide a full array of services for travelers’ (and locals’) personal and professional needs while in the Crescent City.