By Cole Williams

Designer of The Journal

I was watching TV Saturday and saw the poor soaked folks fighting the weather, trying to enjoy the Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade.

It got me to thinking of carnivals past and things about it that have changed. When I was a small child I remember some older cousins coming back from the parades in NOLA with bags full of glass beads, which were still being thrown. Yikes.

Probably anyone reading this has been pelted in the head, or another even more sensitive body part, with Mardi Gras beads. Here is one instance where I would definitely prefer plastic over glass.

When I was old enough to go down to carnival, the big krewes like Rex and Zulu still paraded though the French Quarter. This made for great optics with masked krewe members surrounded by hanging plants and wrought iron.

I was chagrined when the city fathers decided to move the parade routes south-west to St. Charles Avenue and Magazine Street.

I didn’t realize how dangerous those narrow French Quarter streets, designed for horses and buggies, could be when crammed full of thousands of drunks.

About thirty years ago I was goofing around in the Quarter with a friend in the middle of carnival season. The only entertainment was a girl on a balcony across from The Famous Door on Bourbon and Royal Streets. She was showing off her “talents.” The more appreciation the gathering crowd showed, the more talent she showed.

This had progressed beyond a full frontal talent show when dozens of people spilled out of The Famous Door making the existing crowd unstable. People were falling down, others were being kept on their feet by folks desperately holding on to them.

I didn’t panic, but thoughts of the horrible Who concert tragedy of 1979 where 11 people died of asphyxiation in a human stampede certainly popped into my brain. No one was injured that I know of, but one can imagine how this could have played out with a parade thrown in for good measure.

Anyway, by the time this goes to press, Mardi Gras and Valentines Day will be recent memories. I hope y’all had a great carnival season with your sweetie.

Just remember: too much talent can be dangerous.


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