On Mardi Gras Day


Young child waiting to deliver.

The night before the big day.

My photographic plans changed. Drastically. I learned that Big Chief Monk Boudreaux was getting married at noon, Mardi Gras Day. Fat Tuesday. At his home. In a flurry of texts I also found out it was open to the public. Everybody was welcome to attend.

That changed everything.

I wanted to photograph the Zulus as they opened the day at 8 am. I planned to head to Treme to catch the end of Skull and Bones. And, then to chase Indians until they arrived at Kermit Ruffins’ club near the I-10 overpass.

I photographed the Zulus. I looked around for a bit. Had breakfast. And, waited for the big moment. On my way, I almost got trapped outside of the box by a huge truck parade. But, Google voice came to my assistance. I worked my way into the box and there I was. Big Chief’s house.

A few terms. The box refers to everything inside the parade routes. A truck float means that semi trucks pull trailers decorated for Mardi Gras and are filled with people as opposed to the floats pulled by tractors.

The wedding started just about on time, which is to say it was early by New Orleans time.  After the wedding there was a big second line. Or, some kind of line. It worked its way through a large part of Central City.

I made a ton of pictures. Way too many pictures. That’s okay. It fulfilled my wish list and then some.

I left the scene at about 2pm. Mardi Gras 2019 was effectively over for me. Funny thing about that. As much as I grumbled about “having” to photograph it, I feel oddly sad. Like something left. Like someone left.

Because of Christian Lenten schedules, Mardi Gras 2020 is about 357 days away. Not even a whole calendar year.

I think I know what’s making me feel nostalgic. I am pretty sure this is my last working Mardi Gras. I sort of say that every year. This time my back and thigh issues slowed me way down. I had to take breaks just to let my pain calm down. So I could walk some more. Luckily, many people were very kind. I sat on their stoops. I sat on their porches.  I sat on a searchlight trailer. Their owners asked if I needed anything. They told me to sit. They brought me water.

So, this may be the end of the trail for the kind of high intensity walking that is needed to photograph these events.

Besides, recovery time was ridiculous. If I worked for two or three days in a row, I need to sleep as long as I could. And, I needed at least two days to recover. That has nothing to do with my heart or lungs. They seem strong according to my doctor. Instead, it has everything to do with my back, hip and legs.

If leaving the Mardi Gras scene comes to pass at least I went out on a high note. Usually I don’t like most of my pictures. This time, I liked most of my pictures. Never forget that I’m my own harshest critic. Also, I had a good run.

So, the Mardi Gras Day wedding of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. It’s a big deal. He’s the closest thing we have to a chief of chiefs. He’s well-known throughout the city. He’s 77 years old. He was born on Pearl Harbor Day on December 7, 1941. He lives Uptown in Central City. I suspected that a lot of Indian tribes would come out to pay respect. They did. They joined his own tribe, The Golden Eagles, for the ceremony and the second line. It was grand. It was colorful. It was majestic. I walked as much as I could and then turned back.

This little Indian is the ring bearer. I’m pretty sure the crowd was too much for her. It was almost too much for me. For most of us. Since it was outside, everybody crowded to the front. You wouldn’t do that in a church. Somehow, I made my way to the front. You know,  photographer’s luck. That wasn’t easy. The ground in his yard is uneven. There are little holes. There are bits of concrete from a building that was Katrinaized. But, I got there. I made pictures of everything. I even managed to make pictures of the moment the marriage happened.

No worries. You’ll see them. The rest of the week, meaning through Saturday, is dedicated to Mardi Gras pictures that you haven’t seen, including the grand wedding. I’ve only posted one picture today because I have to dig out of the last three weeks of Carnival. My schedule for today and tomorrow, looks impossible. We’ll see.

2 Comments

    1. Sure you can. Better to work with intent rather than just scatter shooting. 🙂 Big Chief Monk has been married at least once before, likely twice ,since I know a couple of his children of very different ages. However, he and Chellene have been a couple for the past 15 years.

      Liked by 1 person

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