Paraded out

I am a little bit under the weather, but I still have made it to Beloit. The girls varsity game between the Trojans and Russell should get underway at 6 or a little thereafter, with the boys varsity to follow.

I’ve been a little stuffed up–not much–and coughing today. I wanted to sleep through the morning, but I had to get up at 9:15 so I could get ready and go to Hays for a 10:30 appointment. When I got back to Russell shortly before noon, I conked out on the reclining couch and napped for 45 minutes. I didn’t leave the house until 1:20, and when I got to Salina, I skipped Buffalo Wild Wings.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the very last Mardi Gras parade I attended. I lived in New Orleans and south Louisiana for 11 more years, but by time I got done with the 1994 Mystic Krewe of Thoth, I came to the conclusion parades were a huge waste of time.

I only went to Thoth because I knew several people riding. Ray Maher and Tommy Mitchell, two people I mentioned yesterday in my recall of the 1994 Endymion parade, were riders, as were Bruce Civello, Ray “Bigun” Jeanfreau, Bryan Bairnsfather, Scott Bairnsfather and Joe Scheuermann.

Scheuermann is now in his 25th season as baseball coach at Delgado Community College in the Big Easy. We worked together for two seasons, 2004 and 2005, before Katrina changed everything. Joe’s son, Tyler, is now holding down the position I once did, making it truly a family affair.

In 1994, Bryan Bairnsfather was a teacher at Brother Martin. He was my American History teacher during my junior year. As it turned out, both of us were in our last year at Brother Martin in 1993-94–me because of impending graudation, Bryan because he was about to go back to his alma mater and join his brother.

Scott Bairnsfather was in his third year as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Archbishop Shaw, working under Hank Tierney. Scott went to Holy Cross for four seasons (1998-2001) before coming back to Shaw in 2002 when Tierney was fired. Scott just concluded his 13th year as head coach, and Byan has been his offensive coordinator every year.

Bruce and Ray have been friends for over 40 years. They graduated from high school in 1972, albeit different schools–Bruce from Rummel and Ray from Holy Cross.

Sadly, Bigun is no longer with us. He passed away on Sept. 18, 2012 at 49. Jimmy Ott texted me about Bigun’s passing. I was covering a volleyball match at Smith Center, and it hit me hard, even though I hadn’t seen him in over seven years.

In 1994, there was an addition to this group–Herb Vincent, who was then the sports information director at LSU. He is now an Associate Commissioner with the Southeastern Conference office in Birmingham.

The Krewe of Thoth uses a parade route which no other does. It does this in order to pass by many hospitals and residential facilities for children with disabilities. Among these facilities is Children’s Hospital, a nationally renowned hospital on Henry Clay Avenue only a few blocks north of the Mississippi River.

In 1994, the parade formed along Henry Clay Avenue and started at Henry Clay and Magazine Street. I parked my car near the Audubon Zoo, only a few blocks where my Uncle Joe lived at the corner of Broadway and Chestnut in the Black Pearl neighborhood, and walked to Henry Clay. I greeted my friends as they arrived at their float, and then walked down to a corner in front of Tchoupitoulas (pronounced CHOP-a-TOO-lis) Street, where the parade would turn. It would move east on Tchoupitoulas to State Street, then head north on State to Magazine. It would proceed east on Magazine to Napoleon Avenue, where it would turn north and follow the traditional route used by every uptown parade EXCEPT Rex and Zulu.

The King of Carnival always starts at the corner of Napoleon and South Claiborne Avenue and makes its way south to St. Charles Avenue. The others travel north on Napoleon to St. Charles.

Zulu, the black krewe which is the first to parade on Mardi Gras day, starts farther east on Claiborne at Jackson Avenue. Zulu goes south on Jackson to St Charles, where it then turns north onto Canal Street. It heads north on Canal, crossing Claiborne, all the way to North Broad Street. It turns eastbound onto Broad and travels to Orleans Avenue, where it turns north before ending at Armstrong Park in the Treme neighborhood.

Today, Thoth starts at Tchoupitoulas and State. It then heads west on Tchoupitoulas to Henry Clay, then north on Henry Clay to Magazine. It stays on Magazine to Napoleon, following the route as it has in the past.

At the 1994 parade, another gentlemen I knew, Chuck Walston, was a masked knight on a horse. He recognized me and handed me a few doubloons.

Then came the float with all of my friends. I got bombarded with beads, doubloons, cups, anything. Some kids tried to yank the throws away, but I scooped up most of it.

Once the parade ended, I drove back to Arabi. Two days later, when Mardi Gras arrived, I stayed home. I have not had the urge to go to another parade since. And celebrating Mardi Gras in the French Quarter? NO WAY.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on February 13, 2015, in Mardi Gras and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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