Amphitheater, Bond Vote, Growth in the News; Mardi Gras Remains a New Orleans Attraction

Crown Bristow

BEST FRIENDS: Here I am during the Mardi Gras festivities with one of my best friends and my Louisiana neighbor for many years, Dr. Arthur Hickman.

It’s great to be in northeast Oklahoma during this early springtime of the year with the flowers blooming and the leaves and grass turning green.

Many exciting things are happening in the region. Congratulations to Bixby for the opening of the Washington Irving Amphitheater near the Arkansas River. Tulsans will vote for a critically important bond issue in April, Jenks will have its first summer with the RiverWalk Crossing next to the Oklahoma Aquarium, and Owasso is booming with new retail stores and housing additions. Broken Arrow could now be called Oklahoma’s third largest city taking into consideration that Lawton counts the military and Norman counts OU students into their respective populations. The economy continues to be impressive with new housing increasing throughout the region. Congratulations to the Creek Nation for their recent expansion announcement.

I was out of the state during part of February. As many of you may have detected by my “talkin’ N’awlins” style, I was raised in New Orleans. It is a family tradition for many of the Primeauxs to attend Mardi Gras in the “Bayou City,” or the “Big Easy,” as it is known.

I have attended the revelry of Mardi Gras in New Orleans almost my entire life. When I was younger, going back to my childhood, I would ride on floats in the parade.

During the past three years I have had the honor of marching in the parade with Pete Fountain, the famous clarinet player known as the “Prince of Mardi Gras.”

The traditional route through the French Quarter follows Canal Street and Bourbon Street and goes past the storied Hotel Monteleone.

People have a great time riding the floats, walking, marching, playing instruments and throwing trinkets and long beads to revelers on the sidewalks. The people treat the trinkets like gold the day of Mardi Gras, though a day later the trinkets may not be worth much of anything to anybody.

Mardi Gras is one big holiday in New Orleans, with everyone wearing purple, green, and gold. They sit on the ground throwing balls, playing music, having a picnic, and watching the crowds walk by between parades.

All of the businesses and roads are practically shut down. People are walking everywhere and meeting new friends. People are dressed in crazy costumes, kids are everywhere, and they love it.

I have picked up some history of Mardi Gras over the years. The purpose of Mardi Gras is the observance of a “Carnival” before the Lenten period (a Christian symbolic penitence from Ash Wednesday to Easter). It originated in the middle of the second century in Rome.

From Rome, the celebration spread to other European countries and finally to America. The New Orleans carnival had its birth in 1827, when a group of students, recently returned from school in Paris, donned strange costumes and danced their way through the streets.

New Orleanians caught the enthusiasm of the youths and in 1837 the first Mardi Gras parade was staged. The first description of a Mardi Gras parade is of a single float in 1839 which was a crude thing, but a great success. It is reported that the float moved through the streets while the crowd roared hilariously. Since then Mardi Gras in New Orleans has been a definite success. It continued to grow, with additional organizations participating each year until the Carnival as we know it today was the result.

The vast majority of people outside of New Orleans believe that the New Orleans Mardi Gras is a celebration spreading over a period of a few days just before Ash Wednesday. In reality the New Orleans carnival begins on the twelfth night after Christmas and continues until Shrove Tuesday. The expression Mardi Gras is from the French, meaning Fat Tuesday.

We have also celebrated Mardi Gras locally over many years. This year, the Oklahoma Aquarium hosted a successful Mardi Gras evening, and the Second Annual Mardi Growl, a joint venture between Tulsa Zoo Friends and the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, was also a success. The event, held at the Greenwood Cultural Center, included the lively jazz of Earl Clark and Spectrum featuring Starr Fisher and Chuck Cissel.

There are always a lot of fun things going on around the region. If you get in the mood for some fun football, catch a few Tulsa Talons games. While you’re out and about, come on over to Bristow and see us at Crown Bristow at 910 South Roland. We’ll be happy to show you some bargains!

Updated 03-29-2005

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