Saturday, February 07, 2009
How does it come to be that so many people put some much energy, and creativity and love into a civic festival? The seasonal events run over a three week period during which there are dozens of parades involving probably thousands of people. I saw just one and I awed by the work and devotion that went into it.
The remarkable documentary Order of Myths offers some clues about Mobile, Alabama's Mardi Gras. I will not try to summarize. If you are at all interested in this complex set of social rituals --- rituals that enforce, create and reinvent racial and sexual patterns -- by all means, make sure to see it. It's out on DVD.
Each of the floats shown in the previous post carries a crew of costumed, masked (white) men who throw beads and other trinkets to the waiting, rapturous crowds.
The pink color of the more extensive masks make the figures on the float seem all the more inhuman, magical.
On the other hand, the small masks that merely cover the eyes show that the costumed figures are merely guys.
Some are obviously having the time of their lives as they fling beads to the crowds.
"Hey you, this one is for you!"
Horsemen from the Conde Cavaliers also pelted the screaming crowds. I was very impressed with the training of the horses and the skill of their riders -- I can't imagine it is easy for horses to travel through a gauntlet of screaming children and excited tourists.
The parade's police escort rode somewhat more sedately.
Friends from the Episcopal Urban Caucus (whose meeting I was attending0 joined the clamor for the thrown loot. In the small corner of the street where I was standing, they were the only Black faces in the crowd.
They pulled in a large haul of goodies with great delight.
Behind the raucous tourists, a more formal crowd was gathering. Apparently this first parade in the Mobile season is also the night the LGBT community holds its formal seasonal ball and folks were dressed accordingly.
See some of the floats in last night's parade here.