Follow the Joan of Arc Parade through the frosty French Quarter live

7:44 p.m.

The parade streams past the golden Joan of Arc statue glinting in the spotlight, on Decatur Street. Everyone sings "Happy Birthday." Soon, the parade comes to its conclusion on Decatur across from Jackson Square. "Happy Birthday" is sung again. King cake is distributed. A fire dancer performs -- possibly the only person who is warm. A chant breaks out: Who dat say they gonna beat them saints." Perfect. Someone wryly says: "Don't believe in global warming."

Finally, the cold-doomed saint, the monks, the warriors, the angels and the flaming heretics follow a marching band back to the Natchez for a post-parade party where, I'm sure, the antifreeze flows.

At about that time, my beloved iPhone went dark and I was forced to retreat to Tujague's to write. In the context of the Joan of Arc parade, my sacrifices seem small. On the cab ride home, the driver says it's 31 degrees in the French Quarter. 

7:04 p.m.

We pass the old Ursuline convent. Parade founder Amy Kirk said she can't tell if the crowd is smaller or larger than 2013, because the route is longer, so parade goers might be more spread out. I asked young Joan if she was staying warm and she said: "Kinda. Kinda not really."

For a while, I walked with the very last angel in the parade -- I know her from her temporal life. Her banner read: "Have Faith in God. God will Aid the City of Orleans." I told the angel that I was trying to live blog from the parade via my iPhone, but my fingers were getting numb. She said I should reach out to northern journalists to see how they handle it. Smart.

6:55 p.m.

Joan arrives at St. Louis Cathedral, and the scene is a beautiful sight amid the camera flashes. The blessing of the sword is underway but can't be heard because of microphone failure. Joan raises her sword. The church bells chime. This may be theater, but it's very real.

Two young women from Kansas say that despite being used to cold weather, tonight is a bit chilly. They are college students volunteering to do post-Katrina renovation. They say they are with a group called United Saints. Perfect.

6:30 p.m.

The horses arrive. The parade progresses. From the balcony of the Historic New Orleans Collection, a woman offers a toast in French. Hoorah! Hoorah! I'm invited onto the balcony by old friends. Then, HNOC director Priscilla Lawrence offers a lovely historic address, calling Joan the queen of New Orleans. Champagne glasses clink. Paraders throw souvenir books of matches, prayer cards, electric votive candles, fireball cinnamon candy. The maid and her entourage pass.

6:15 p.m.

Carnival parade season 2014 has begun with a delay. First, a freight train momentarily prevented the parade from leaving the riverfront. Now, the procession is stalled in the frosty wind near Jax Brewery awaiting the arrival of the horses.

Someone in the crowd comments that it must be especially cold in a kilt. There are children on stilts. A krewe captain asks the "flaming heretics" to form up -- a parade subgroup, I suppose. Bagpipes have begun to wail. Excitement is high, even if the temperature is low.

5:29 p.m.

The scene is the riverboat Natchez. Fifteenth-century monks and nuns pace the gangplank. On the first deck, nobles and warriors wait. There's a cold breeze off the Mississippi River. A bagpiper practices a mournful tune, but then, what bagpipe tune is not mournful? At a table inside the boat, Joan of Arc prepares for the parade in her honor.

This year's Joan is 16-year-old Clara Bajeux, whose father was the king of the 2013 parade. Bajeux is not afraid of the cold. She's certain she can stick it out because she recently returned from a trip to Chicago, where the temperatures were even colder. She said she has faith that a crowd of parade-goers will line the streets, because last year's rain didn't much diminish attendance.

photo.JPGView full sizeAboard the Natchez, Joan of Arc prepares for the parade in her honor on Monday night (Jan. 6). This year's Joan of Arc is 16-year-old Clara Bajeux.

Joan wears a golden gown, silver armor and a laurel wreath. She said she has not yet met the horse she will ride tonight, but she has faith that things will work out.

The krewe has begun to line up. And it's cold.

Posted previously:

Carnival parade season kicks off tonight, with the Joan of Arc parade in the French Quarter. This year the medieval twelfth-night procession coincides almost perfectly with the arrival of arctic air in the Crescent City that is predicted to drop temperatures below the freezing point. So parade-goers will have to sacrifice comfort to behold the maiden warrior and her entourage. The parade, which draws attention to the city’s French heritage, is held on the birthday of the teenage martyr who obeyed God’s call to battle in the early 1400s. The parade is in its sixth year, though the route has changed slightly.

Look for the parade to begin at 6 on Decatur Street at Toulouse Street near the Natchez riverboat dock. It will follow a rectangular route uptown from Decatur Street to Conti Street to Chartres Street, then downtown on Chartres Street to Ursulines Street and back up Decatur to end at Washington Artillery Park street amphitheater across from Jackson Square. The parade will pause for brief ceremonial events at the Historic New Orleans Collection at the corner of Conti and Chartres Streets and at St. Louis Cathedral.

If you’re not venturing out to the frosty French Quarter, follow the parade from the comfort of your laptop at We’ll be providing live updates.