Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mardi Gras Parade Preparations

The amount of work that goes into putting on a Mardi Gras parade is monumental. The crowds in the streets yelling "Throw Me Something Mister" have no idea of the planning, logistics, permits, last minute details, tree limb trimming and much more that all go into making the parade a possibility. 

Mardi Gras in St. Tammany Parish is no exception. But most all of the professional Mardi Gras floats that appear in dozens of parades in small communities across southern Louisiana have one thing in common, the floats are made in New Orleans. Those good-looking, well-built floats have to be retrieved from New Orleans, brought to the community in which the parade will take place, then, afterwards, brought back to New Orleans for the next scheduled small town parade to pick up the next day or two. 

The Krewe of Olympia parade in 1972 got its floats from a well-known Mardi Gras parade float maker in Gretna, so the night before the parade in Covington, a huge number of volunteers drove across Lake Pontchartrain, through New Orleans, over the Mississippi River bridge and to the Mardi Gras float warehouse. A couple of hours later, in the middle of the night, the floats were hooked up and off they went, back across the Mississippi Bridge (see below), through New Orleans, back across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and into the parking lot at the Bogue Falaya Mall shopping center. 

Lou Major Jr. and I, as news reporters for the Covington Daily News, decided to tag along on this adventure and take pictures. So below is the photograph of the King's Float, Olympia Parade, as it is being whisked across the Mississippi River at 40 miles per hour on its way north of the lake, where it will be the star attraction in that year's downtown Covington parade.

I can't even imagine how, after the parade is over, that same group of volunteers help hook up all the floats again and run them back to New Orleans to the warehouse where they will be parked, inspected, and spiffed up for the next group from somewhere in the South to show up and haul them off to the next parade.