- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The crowds were small and the costumes wickedly satirical at Mardi Gras yesterday in this hurricane-battered city that could use a few laughs.

A group of French Quarter revelers dressed as blind people with canes and dark glasses. They wore hard hats and T-shirts emblazoned “LEVEE INSPECTOR.”

Several people draped themselves in blue tarps like those used to cover damaged roofs, fashioning them into ball gowns and nun’s habits. A man with a model of a military helicopter suspended over his head wrapped himself in a white blanket with “2000 lbs” stenciled on it — he was a giant sandbag, like the ones dropped into one of the breached levees.

“I lost everything,” Andrew Hunter, 42, said as he sat on the steps of his ruined home on Jackson Avenue. “But what the heck. This helps us keep our spirits up, and we need all the help we can get with that.”

The culmination of the eight-day pre-Lenten bash fell nearly six months to the day after the Aug. 29 storm that smashed thousands of homes and killed more than 1,300 people, the vast majority of them in New Orleans.

Despite the typical debauchery, there was no escaping reminders of the storm.

Zulu, the 97-year-old Mardi Gras club, or krewe, that lost 10 members to Katrina, paraded amid homes that still bear dirty brown water marks from the floodwaters that covered 80 percent of the city. Another krewe, Rex, King of Carnival, paraded past a boarded-up store bearing a spray-painted warning that looters would be shot.

Kevin and Marie Barre, a husband and wife from New Orleans, wore white plastic coveralls bearing the all-too-familiar spray-painted “X” that denotes a home that has been checked for bodies.

“It’s a reminder. A lot of people who are coming down here don’t understand what we’ve been through,” Kevin Barre said.

Mayor C. Ray Nagin, wearing a black beret and camouflage uniform, portrayed cigar-chomping Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, the military man who led the first big relief convoy into the city.

“It’s been absolutely — I don’t know how to describe it — great,” Mr. Nagin said of the party. “Katrina did a lot of bad things. But it has done something to give New Orleanians a fresh love for their city.”

Traditions held. About 160 members of clarinetist Pete Fountain’s Half Fast Marching club had breakfast at the shuttered Commander’s Palace restaurant before heading down the parade route — but without Mr. Fountain, who is ill and missed what would have been his 46th trip with the group. The celebrated musician is 75.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide