Monday, March 3, 2014

An Asheville Mardi Gras

We've been transplants in western North Carolina for almost 15 years now. We've enjoyed many new and different experiences over the years, many of them unique to this area. And there's probably just as many we haven't tried yet. Until yesterday, Mardi Gras in Asheville was one of them. When you have grown up where Mardi Gras got started, it's difficult to imagine that a reproduction anywhere else could be near as interesting. I've been disappointed by too many "Cajun" restaurants in various parts of the country, and I figured Mardi Gras in Asheville would be another waste of time. (I was half right.) I really hadn't been tempted to even check it out. The event is hardly promoted, so it was almost by accident that I stumbled into the festivities while in Asheville yesterday afternoon.

The parade itself was totally lame. I know, it's not fair to compare it to the parades I am used to in New Orleans, but that is my frame of reference. Only one marching band? You call that a float? Wait, it's over already? Yeah, Ashevillians have much to learn about putting on a parade. And by the way, Asheville, when you go to a parade, leave the #*@! dog at home. But it wasn't all bad.

As I roamed the crowd with my camera, I discovered quite a few interesting costumes. In fact, I was impressed with the number of people who had dressed in costume for the occasion. While Asheville still has much to learn about parading, their imagination, enthusiasm, and the spirit of Mardi Gras were apparent almost everywhere. Also, the crowds were amazingly well behaved and friendly. Unbelievably, in the two hours or so that I spent in the parade area, I only saw two cops! Try a police presence like that in New Orleans and watch how quickly things unravel!

After surveying the parade situation at its assembly point on Wall St., I decided it would be best to leave the overall parade shots to the camera phone crowd. The most interesting sights were obviously the individual costumers, so I decided to work that angle and focus on portraits of the revelers. Here are some of my favorites from yesterday afternoon. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

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