By Jacklyn Leo and Taylor Pittman.
With Guest Photographer Scott Anderson, www.anderson.camera
Although it isn’t quite Mardi Gras yet, there are still plenty of events around New Orleans to hold you over. One of those events in particular was the Krewe of Jingle parade held December 1st from 1 to 3 pm. Although it was nearing the end of autumn, it felt like an average warm summer day.
The Krewe of Jingle parade is sponsored by the Downtown Development District (DDD). It was thought up as a means of bringing more economic activity to the downtown area. There was even a special throw that encouraged people to spend money at the Café du Monde at the Riverwalk.
To the average outsider, the pandemonium before the parade might look a little hectic, but any experienced parade-goer can assure you that it’s just organized chaos. People are wandering around to admire the floats while waiting for the rest of their marching krewe, school bands are lining up ready to start, and the people on the floats are just getting all their throws ready. A mixture of school flags and bright flashing lights draw your attention every which way, and morale is always at an all time high.
They threw things such as tokens for a free order of beignets at the Riverwalk Café du Monde, customized parade cups, small jingle bells, plush holiday animals, and round diamond and braided metallic beads. “The idea is for people who come home for the holidays to stay downtown or on Canal no matter if it’s shopping, eating or just hanging out” said the Marketing Director of The Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, Sam Brady, who helped organize the event and was on float 5 with her colleagues from the Riverwalk.
One thing that you would expect to see at Mardi Gras time would be the creativeness of floats, amazing themes, interesting costumes, and drunk people walking around everywhere. This holds true for this off-season parade, as merriment and enthusiasm for the task at hand were on full display.
Although from the outside it may seem fun to be on a float, there’s a lot more to it than just throwing beads and waving at passersby. In reality the experience can be very stressful. Beforehand you have to stock up your station with as much as it can carry, which is not as much as you’d think. Even for a shorter parade, where the entire route was around two hours long, you can find yourself scrambling for something to throw to the rowdy audience.
On the topic of the audience, they were as expected for a parade; loud and entitled. You would come across some people who were mostly gentle and were only at the parade to experience it. For them, catching anything was a bonus. Most of the people, however, were there to catch as much as possible. It makes sense for the kids, they’re young and still don’t understand that for the most part, they won’t ever use anything they catch. It’s the adults that seem out of place. They run up to the float and start yelling at you for a stuffed animal or a bead. If you didn’t see them or throw them something right away they would stomp off and pout. It’s something you’d expect to see around Mardi Gras from the ground, but it just seems a bit rude when you’re the one giving people free things. Of course, the few bad apples can’t really ruin the entire event. It was exciting to ride on a float, and the adrenaline rush you get from seeing smiling faces and excited eyes always overcame the worst parts of it.
Overall, the Krewe of Jingle parade was a positive experience. Even though there were some bumps along the way, both the riders and the audience seemed to enjoy the time they spent on the route. For tourists, it may seem extravagant, but locals know it’s a lot smaller and more reserved than normal parades.
The whole purpose of the parade is to bring more attention to the downtown district and encourage people to spend time and money there during the holidays. However, parades are always interesting for tourists who don’t normally see that sort of thing. So tourist or local, this parade can be fun for everyone.