Mardi Gras Czar: Let's give more love to marching bands at parades

Mardi Gras Czar
The Mardi Gras Czar is here to answer your Mardi Gras questions.

Good people of Mardi Gras: Prepare to be boarded.

Over the next 10 days, you will pelted by plastic, doused by doubloons and sloshed before sunset. You will relieve friends of hospitality and you will be relieved of yours. Just don't relieve yourself in public, especially the weekend before Fat Tuesday. If you do, and end up at OPP, you will remain there until Ash Wednesday when the courts open.

Words of whizzdom.

Last week, The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com introduced me, the Mardi Gras Czar, a benevolent, self-appointed Carnival fanatic whose goal is to improve the Mardi Gras experience for all.

Last week's column yielded many suggestions and questions. The only complaint? People who complain about Mardi Gras.  "What's not to love?," this reader asked.

Indeed. Reflection ensued. Certainly, we could find ONE thing this reader would change about Carnival if she could.

Behold City Carnival Ordinance Section 34-21, which states "No reptiles shall be allowed within 200 yards of a Mardi Gras parade route."

Yes, gads. Who knew?

Certainly, we revelers cannot be expected to leave our Angolan Dwarf Pythons, Vietnamese Big Headed Turtles or Banded Gila Monsters unattended for a full day of parading. Dem critters need help! And fresh, live, baby mice.

Alas, Mardi Gras revelers, turns out the only boa you can take to the route is a feathered one. 

The Mardi Gras Czar, however, does have a real complaint as it pertains to the ratio of marching groups with recorded music and live bands.

Truth is, Mardi Gras Czar loves the mostly-female marching groups' spirit, costumes, boots and skill at applying fake eyelashes.

But what Mardi Gras Czar doesn't love is that the ratio of women's marching groups to live bands seems to have mushroomed in recent years.

New Rule:

For every marching group that parades to recorded music, there should be at least three live bands, high school or otherwise. While City Carnival Ordinance Section 34-14 mandates that "each parade shall have at least seven, but no more than 30 (30!) marching bands," there is no language pertaining to marching groups.

For example:

The Krewe of Nyx was a highlight last year. Great throws. However, there were so many women's marching groups in Nyx that I wondered if the krewe simply forgot to book more than a few marching bands.

And then there they were. In the very last spot in the parade, an actual middle school marching band with adorable dancers and baton twirlers stomping and spinning in unison to Earth, Wind & Fire's "Fantasy," played live and loud by the school's marching band.

That was a real Mardi Gras moment. One that gets your blood flowing and hands clapping and keeps you showing up in the freezing weather the next night and the next. And the next.

Yet why was the middle school school band and marching group at the END of the parade? This meant that the 8-year-old twirling the baton in the sequin onesie did not get home til after 1 a.m., while my 40-year-old neighbor in the Organ Grinders was off the route by 10 p.m. Dat ain't right.

New rule:

Middle and high school bands can choose where they are in the lineup. Let the kids in the actual marching bands go first, with the adult groups that march to recorded music go to the back. And the ratio must be 3 to 1, live music to recorded.

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Got comments or suggestions for the Mardi Gras Czar? Email mardigrasczar@nola.com.

See you on the parade route. In a land called Fantasy.