John Howell Sr. 1/22/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Frenzy felt as Nawlins gets in Super Gras groove

It was a beautiful Sunday in New Orleans where the approach of the Super Bowl (February 3) and the early Mardi Gras have compressed preparations into a frenzy.

On Laurel Street, the Pussyfooters brought further precision to their bumps, grinds and gyrations. Their Web site describes them as, “Majorettes from the Mothership sent here to help the party people get their groove on.”

We’ve watched them practice on the Wisner Playground basketball court since before Christmas, their early start having been pushed by the 2013 calendar that places Mardi Gras on February 12. Some practices include the whole troupe. Other practices appear to be remedial lessons for two or three for whom the groove has proved evasive.

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The Pussyfooters will march in at least six Mardi Gras parades this year, including Muses, Thoth and Orpheus.

Marching through neighborhood streets has been the Xavier Prep Marching Band, practicing and building endurance for long parade routes in their near future.

Also marching through the neighborhood on Sunday were the Jefferson Buzzards, one of the oldest marching clubs in the city. As best as I can understand, marching clubs are unlike some groups — the Shriners, for instance, whose raison d’etre includes service projects, with parade participation as a by-product — a marching club’s sole reason for existence appears to be a Mardi Gras parade that starts from their Buzzards’ Nest on Annunciation Street, and winds its way from bar to bar in the Uptown neighborhood before finally joining with the Rex Parade on Fat Tuesday.

But on Sunday, they were having a “dress” rehearsal, literally. Members of the all-male troupe dress in drag for a practice parade that winds its way from bar to bar in the neighborhood, presumably to familiarize themselves with the route.

Downtown work crews were frantically trying to complete construction projects begun many months ago with intentions of completion before the Super Bowl. Paving crews blocked streets near the Superdome as they overlaid streets.

We saw the bright red streetcars slowly navigating the new tracks laid along Loyola from Union Station to Canal Street. New Orleans Regional Transit Authority employees were aboard, testing the tracks and stops to find glitches and, of course, familiarize themselves with the route.

The New Orleans Police Department has been doing its part as well, making arrests of the transient, upscale prostitutes who follow the Super Bowl. Many of the lady visitors advertise their services on Police oblige by posing as customers and then making arrests.

Other transient groups who follow the money to Super Bowls include professional pickpockets, police say.
That money is projected at over $6,000 per Super Bowl visitor — the average amount spent by each of the thousands who will come to town for the game, bean counters tell us.

So the frenzy builds. Someone told me that New Orleans is a city that always seems on the verge of losing control — and that’s what people like about it.