On Sunday, February 19, Skinz-n-Bonez made our Uptown parade debut with the Krewe of Okeanos. Being a rather new krewe, we were thrilled to have been asked to participate.
Okeanos was scheduled to roll the extended route from Magazine and Jefferson all the way downtown. I had more than a few doubts leading up to the parade as to my abilities to walk a six-mile parade route. It was many years ago (and many pounds ago) that I last walked that far.
I was so excited that I barely slept the night before Okeanos. I have been so enthralled by Mardi Gras since my first one in New Orleans in 2008 that I was completely overwhelmed by the opportunity to be a part of it.
We arrived early at the home of Garrett, one of our superb Soul Sweepers, who had kindly made his home available as a meetup/makeup spot pre-parade. When all costumes and faces were in order, we headed over to Jefferson Avenue, where Okeanos was lining up to roll. We soon found our place behind the Morgus float—a most fitting place for a bone gang—and warmed up as we watched other walking groups find their places among the elaborate floats.
As the parade started and we turned onto Magazine Street, greeted by a throng of smiling and screaming parade-goers, I think we were all finally aware of where we were and what we were doing. At least, this was true for me.
We strutted our stuff and danced and marched through all six miles of that parade, led by our proud Queen and by the joyous movements of the 504 Tag Team, Dancing Man 504 Darryl Young and Elsie Semmes. We beat our drums and boogied down the illustrious St. Charles Avenue and onto the crowded Canal Street, backed by the thundering rhythms of members of Brooklyn-based percussion group Maracatu New York, who had come down to roll with us. We threw the handmade throws that many had participated in making, from skellie-painted corks to hand-painted masks to Mardi Gras beads. Near the judges’ stand at Gallier Hall, I’m almost positive that I heard someone call us one of the most innovative new women’s krewes of the year. (Or perhaps that’s what I was told after the parade and I’m just assigning the memory to the event.)
I felt not a block of that six-mile walk, so enthralled was I to the magic that is Mardi Gras in New Orleans, to the cheering crowds and the smiling faces and the clapping hands, all the while knowing that they were clapping for us.
As the end of the route neared, exhaustion started to catch up, as did the pain in my feet that had been pushed aside by pure joy all day. Post-parade, some of us went in our own directions, and many wound up along the parade route at Lucky’s on St. Charles, where we spent the rest of the day enjoying the parades from across the avenue, seated comfortably on the patio outside, imbibing the alcohol we had so richly earned.
As the last of Bacchus passed us by, it was time to go home. We knew that cabs would be nonexistent and that public transportation was not an option, so several of us hoofed it, giving us a grand total of at least ten miles walked all day.
I woke up the next morning barely able to walk, but with the satisfaction that all of my pain had come from doing something that I had dreamed of, something incredibly awesome, and something that would be remembered by at least some of the spectators along that parade route.
I’ve been told that we are now a sub-krewe of Okeanos, and that we will again be participating, no doubt with unbridled glee, in next year’s parade.
Still more to come…