The Krewe of Bacchus rolled through New Orleans on Sunday (Feb. 7) to cap a busy final weekend of parades as Carnival 2016 draws toward a close with the countdown to Mardi Gras. Parading for its 48th year, Bacchus stuck to what it knows: simple beauty, school marching bands and a little bit of glitz.
And that's all just as well, given that the parade schedule pitted Bacchus against Super Bowl 50. It left slightly thinner crowds, and a little elbow room, for the Carnival faithful vying for sparkling beads, light-up batons and custom plushes.
Still, the big game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, led by New Orleans' own Peyton Manning, was not without its presence on the route. Some enterprising revelers set up loudspeakers for the radio broadcast while other parade parties had a likely wider open-door policy as sports fans trudged between St. Charles Avenue and living room television sets.
At least one host on Napoleon Avenue decided not to choose and set up a giant inflatable video screen with the game audio on loudspeakers, which was at once both convenient for those hoping to keep up and inconvenient when Coldplay and Beyonce, performing at the game's halftime show, drowned out the parade's West Jefferson High School drum line. (Who could compete with Beyonce anyway?)
Overhead, the skywriter who's been flying above the parade route all weekend might have picked up some nighttime tricks. A new pilot swung around the parade with a light-up marquee, but the messages were so long it was hard to pick up what they were. (I saw something like "eating peanuts and chewing tobacco." Any ideas, readers?)
As for the parade itself, the 1,300 or so Bacchus riders tossed generously, taking great pleasure in playing up the custom plushes that were tied to each float theme. Signature floats such as the Bacchagator, Bacchawoppa, Bacchasaurus and the bead-endangered family of Kongs all made delightful returns to the route.
Bacchus' theme, "Flights of Delight," drew on fantastical creatures that take to the air. Float designs drew on mysticism and fun for a crowd-pleasing and visually appealing year.
Parade theme: "Flights of Delight," with designers creating floats dedicated to things that take to the air, including Mary Poppins, UFOs, hummingbirds, dragonflies and even time (because it flies, of course).
Weather conditions: Brisk with a little breeze and temperatures in the high 40s.
Prize throws: Anything that glowed or one of the new custom, float-specific plushes. My favorite came off the Phoenix-themed float, which itself was a beautiful swirl of yellows, oranges and reds.
Favorite floats: Several stand out for their designs and beauty. Although the body of the float wasn't particularly interesting, the figurehead for "Flying a Kite" was a lovely pair of deconstructed kites shaped like a dragon and a rooster. Also: "Manticore's Fantasy Float," for its brightly colored and glittering palm fronds; "When Pigs Fly," for its fun, airborne pig figurehead and propeller flowers dotting the rest; and "When Eagles Soar," for the red and white flower decor and giant United States flag seals.
Hottest burns: None to be had here. Bacchus keeps it classy and not sassy.
Favorite bands: I seemed to have landed in one of those unfortunate blocks where the school bands were usually just starting or just finishing a number, but hats off to McMain, McDonough 35 and Jesuit. Also of note for pure adorableness was the Roots of Music Band, which had two of the youngest drum majors I've ever seen.
Favorite marching groups: Bacchus fills its ranks with student marching bands, so there aren't dancing or marching groups except those tied to bands. Cheers to the glittering gold dance team of Carver High, however, for choreography that truly stood out. The ladies weren't afraid to dance, and it was fun to watch.
Celebrity spotting: New Orleans-born actor Anthony Mackie reigned as Bacchus XLVIII.
Crowd atmosphere: Dedicated. The chilly weather and the Super Bowl kept out most except the Carnival diehards.
Break-downs, delays: Bacchus wrapped up within a tidy 2 1/2 hours, even with a few several-minute stops along the way.