Parades roll in New Orleans to smaller, but enthusiastic crowds!

Mardi Gras 2006 in New Orleans

Smaller parades and shortened routes will not dampen the excitement in the French Quarter. The beginning of the city's condensed 2006 parade season went off without a hitch, much to the delight of thousands of celebrants, who were happy to simply have Carnival back!

The city of New Orleans reduced the 2006 parade schedule to eight days in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The weekend beginning Feb. 18th welcomed the krewes of Pontchartrain, Shangri-La, Pygmalion, Knights of Sparta and Pegasus, King Arthur, Centurions and more. Parades start back on Thursday, Feb 23rd for six straight days of street celebrations (parade schedule). Many parades that would normally have lasted all day are being shortened to a couple hours because some krewe members are still out of town or have more pressing demands on their time. Several high school bands and marching units are unavailable to particpate, which will also shorten some parades.

As expected, some of the parades have already taken aim at Katrina-related themes, such as FEMA and the levees that were breached.

While some people have expressed concern that Mardi Gras celebrations are inappropriate or even unsafe given the circumstances, most residents agree that it is a perfect opportunity to have a little well-deserved fun during a time of rebuilding and hard work. The initial weekend of parades proved that the city and residents are ready for the celebrations, and in the true spirit of New Orleans, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!"