Mardi Gras, Part Three 2:32 p.m. 2003-02-28

Saturday night was the Krewe of Pegasus parade. We had the prime spot- our hotel was right on Canal Street. We sent out our people early to "save" our spot, and I went out searching for a Hurricane.

In my defense, I had not had a thing to drink so far, and I was in New Orleans, for Pete's sake! I did not want a Pat O'Brien's hurricane - although they are not bad. I wanted one from Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, which is made with real fruit, and seems a shade less touristy than Pat O's. Kind of an insider sort of drink...

My husband refused to walk with me all the way down Bourbon Street to Lafitte's - he was in the hotel lobby, reading Solaris. His comment, when concerned parade goers asked about this was: "I've already caught my beads..." Poor man - he just doesn't get it.

I ended up forgoing a "Southern Comfort" Hurricane from the stand in the Marriott parking garage (it sounded VILE), and finally just settled for one from a daquiri stand on Iberville or Bienville. It tasted like cough syrup. I only drank half. I feel cheated.

There were problems with Sparta, the parade preceding Pegasus. Two of the floats had flat tires. So we expected a delay. When the parade arrived, however, a strange thing happened. The floats, with their bead-throwing riders, were detoured onto the OTHER lane of Canal Street, which is a boulevard. What passed in front of our hotel was a motley stream of marching bands. We were told that it was all in the name of speeding the procession up.

Of course, my sister, and the other die-hards shot off across the road to vie with the others for doubloons and beads. I went over for a while, but didn't feel particularly competitive. After all, I have 5 jars of beads at home.

Luckily for us, Pegasus came by the hotel as planned. The police were extremely strict, however. We are used to catching parades during the daytime on the grassy boulevards uptown, where there are no barricades, and people may follow a float with a "generous" bead thrower for half a block.

Here, near the Quarter, things are serious. My sister dodged the barricade to pick up a stuffed animal thrown to her by her daughter, and a stern black woman in uniform walked up to our group. As Sister disappeared, hunting more loot, Angry African-American Female Cop proceeded to say to ME (and the people around me- none of us who had crossed the barricade):

"I am a nice person. But that does NOT mean that I won't arrest you if you cannot abide by the law. DO NOT CROSS THE BARRICADE."

Minutes later, my sister's sister-in-law was reprimanded by another officer. Were we going to have to bail them out of jail?

Soon, we behaved and endeavored to get the police on our side. They actually would pick up things if we asked them to. My favorite was when we yelled at one police officer to pick up a plastic bag (usually they used to put the medallion necklaces in), only to have him look at us in pity and say, "It's empty!"

We made a pretty good haul, and when our parade riders, my niece and nephew, came back with their dad, they divided up the loot. I was denied my stuffed Pegasus toy, because none of my niece or nephews would give theirs up. That's okay - next time I visit, I'll snag one!

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