Photography / Travel

Photographs of Mardi Gras in New Orleans

New Orleans, LA, March 2003

by Tim Darling             (See more photo projects)

Parades crowded the streets around the French Quarter all day. You could see the streamers, signs, and occassional ten-foot tall hair decoration from blocks away. One passing parade sucked me in (at my friend's request, I suppose as a photo opportunity). The paraders were dressed in crazy costumes that were usually reminiscent of the popular images of medieval royalty. Women glided by in velvet dresses and capes. Court jesters and mimes grinned satanically through eery masks while flashing the bright colors and banners of their adopted bloodline. One mime was dressed in long strips of duct tape in an apparent satire of the government's recent suggestion that it would be somehow useful in case of a terrorist attack.

When it got dark, most of the crowds huddled in the main ten block stretch of Bourbon street, which was almost impossible to move through. Beads flew from the second and third floor balconies. Neon lights from bars on the street and camera flashes mixed in the darkness. I followed the people I was with as we snaked around the streets, some of us trying to avoid being groped by strange hands, others trying to avoid our cameras meeting the same fate. A line of grim faced religious protesters trudged slowly by with their hands on each other's shoulders while we stood gaping up at the Playboy balcony for them to throw beads down (they'd throw beads at anyone standing there or walking by. I almost never saw anyone throw beads back which I had heard was more common).

In the dark, the side streets took on the feel of the impoverished underworld in cartoons and movies: where the misfits who were banished from the bright and secure above-world society were relegated to slink around in the cold with humped backs and hardened eyes.

If the Mardi Gras parades on the backstreets during the day were an idealistic impression of what life was like in medieval times, then at night they became a soberingly realistic mirror of it (and perhaps more so of our own lives today).


Some of the friends I went down there with (at an interstate stop):

I also got this photo from the trip (it's on the 'Random photographs / people' page).

(click for email)

Your Comments

i'm looking for pictures of me from Mardi Gras 2003 (on bourbon street). i'm approx 30 yrs. old, shoulder length blond hair, had a tight gray t-shirt with a red jacket on; i was on the prowl for beads from balconies. let me know if you can help!! thanks!!

-- Valerie, Aug 24, 2003
Very Nice site, See mine

-- Troy, Apr 26, 2004
Your right have that DVD of Naughty Gras in the Big Easy. Just got it in very fast service and love the dvd. Thanks,

-- zack, May 9, 2004
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-- Con, May 17, 2004
Dude, You guys rock in New Orleans. And yes I did see the Naughty Gras in the Big Easy. I WAS IN IT ! thanks and see you at the Tarpon Rodeo in july !!!! Thanks Troy your one bad ass dude.

-- Steve, Jun 6, 2004
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-- WOW, Oct 19, 2004

-- GLENN GILES, July 30, 2005
MAN..... cherise nice dvd ! thanks......

-- GLENN ( THE MAN ) GILES, July 30, 2005
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All text and pictures copyright © 2003 Tim Darling.