Put me on Decatur Street on a cool winter night while a New Orleans brass band plays “Happy Birthday” to a gilded statue of a French 15th century teenage warrior woman as people wave plastic swords in the air and I am a happy man.
The Joan of Arc parade that took place Sunday night (Jan. 6) is beyond brilliant. It’s an event that somehow manages to marry French heritage with the memory of pointless war, hideous martyrdom, undying faith, feminism, renaissance fair costuming, post-Katrina participatory Mardi Gras, Twelfth Night and, in 2019 anyway, the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl bid. It’s like a weird surrealist opera on the march.
If they gave Pulitzer Prizes for parades, the Joan of Arc parade would win for sure.
Part of the genius of the parade is its unpretentiousness. From the confetti siege cannon, to the marching “Flaming Heretics,” to the ridiculous bicycle horses, the Joan of Arc parade has its tongue properly in its cheek. Thank you for that.
Sunday night was the start of the Mardi Gras season. There’s no relationship between Joan of Arc’s birthday and the day we begin eating King Cake and marking our territory for the Endymion parade, though it seems like there should be.
The miracle of the Joan of Arc parade is that it’s only 11 years old. I mean, wouldn’t you think the city of New Orleans would have had a parade for the Maid of Orleans forever? But no, this is one of those upstart parades invented by an out-of-state-born young person, Amy Kirk-Duvoisin, who upset the Kings’ Day status quo big time. Thanks for that too.
Doug MacCash has the best job in the world, covering art, music and culture in New Orleans. Contact him via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. As always, please add your point of view to the comment stream.