Friday, February 23, 2007

Two Celebrations

Last year’s Mardi Gras was an act of defiance. Despite—or maybe because of—the desperate, post-Katrina life we were all living at the time, New Orleanians stubbornly embraced their most identifiable tradition. Last year, most parades had only a handful of floats with few riders. The school bands were pitifully small, wearing windbreakers instead of uniforms, with three schools sometimes joining together their musicians to form one heartbreakingly small group. Crowds were determined, but thin.

This year, “they” say the crowds were almost up to pre-Katrina strength. More Krewes rolled, and they had more riders. More school bands were back, and some even had uniforms. Both my sister and oldest daughter flew into town for the celebration. It’s been a good Carnival.

Then, tonight, Steve and I went to the Vietnamese New Year’s celebration. Yes, the Year of the Pig officially started a week ago, but this is New Orleans, and you can’t expect anyone to try to celebrate anything in the middle of Carnival. So they had the dragon dance and fireworks tonight, and the turnout was incredible. According to the event’s organizers, 85% of the city’s Vietnamese community has returned. These are almost all people who came to this city as refugees, who worked hard to make a new life for themselves only to suffer again beneath Katrina. Now they’re back, and working hard to rebuild their lives, again. It formed an inspiring end to an emotional week.


liz fenwick said...

I have to see I got chills reading that bit. The will to survive and thrive is amazing. Pleased to hear you had a wonderful Mardi Gras.

Charles Gramlich said...

I didn't make it to a single parade or celebration, but Josh did go and said both the parades and the crowds were big. My mom called to tell me they're having a mini-Mardi Gras in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I wonder if it's partly due to Katrina evacuees who haven't returned.

Sphinx Ink said...

Way to go, NOLA! Hurray for that South Louisiana spirit, grit and determination!