POSTED Tue. Feb 10, 2015

New Orleans Moments

Where Should You Watch Mardi Gras Parades?
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN
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Most of the parades of Carnival season follow a certain, set route: Magazine steet, from the intersection with Jefferson Ave, all the way to Napoleon, then up Napoleon to St Charles, and along St Charles to Canal. There, the parades pivot, proceed along Canal street, and turn right on St Peter, terminating at Poydras. Most krewes follow this well worn track of beads and throws; you can find a map here

There are a lot of vantage points to pick from on this route, and visitors may have a tough time picking one from the pack. They won’t lack for candidates – I have a few personal favorite St Charles Ave sitting spots, with the intersection of Jackson Ave ranking high on the list for nostalgic and practical reasons (the nearby Igor’s always has cheap beer and good cheeseburgers).

Still, for my money, there is never a better place to watch a parade on St Charles Ave then under the bridge at Calliope St. It’s not a pretty spot (it’s a highway overpass, after all), and many New Orleanians never venture this far up the route, preferring the tree-lined Garden District.

That’s understandable, but believe me, you’re missing out at the overpass. The bridge creates a tunnel that melds the acoustics of local marching bands into something magical. The effect melds incredibly naturally with the sharp clang of brass and the deep thrum of a good drumline.

It’s difficult to describe; if you’ve ever felt music throb from the tips of your toes to the end of your hair, you have an idea of what the experience is like. Suffice to say, this is how New Orleans marching band music was meant to be digested.

I’m embedding a video below of the famed St Augustine’s Marching 100 playing under the bridge in 2012, courtesy of Garrett Edgerson. The video has a nice start, but around 2:05, when the band launches into Kanye West’s ‘All Of The Lights,’ things get crazy, and the audience understandably flips out.

Honestly, the above is a decent video, but it still doesn’t really capture the experience, in the same way watching someone eat can never replicate the act of chowing down yourself. Head to the bridge early for your next parade, and prepare to have your mind blown.

For good measure, here’s Landry-Walker under the bridge. This one gets good at the two minute mark.

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.

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