Super Bowl: New Orleans Carnival parades are rolling tailgate
KEVIN McGILL and STACEY PLAISANCE
Associated Press Writers
NEW ORLEANS — Dogs dressed in Saints jerseys and gaudy floats carrying masked riders provided a rolling pre-game tailgate party for thousands as New Orleans started partying long before the Super Bowl kicked off.
The game fell on the first big weekend of Carnival season parades, and most who came to watch the floats and marching bands wore the black and gold team colors of the Saints. They lined the streets while sidewalk vendors and downtown bards did a brisk business in corn dogs, nachos and beer.
David Frazier and Daphne Naro, of the San Francisco area, were among the parade goers along Canal Street at the edge of the French Quarter. The game brought them back to New Orleans, Frazier's home town.
"The Saints in the Super Bowl, man. That's a once-in-forever thing," Frazier said.
He could have headed to Miami, but, "I got no connections in Miami. My connection's here."
They predicted "pandemonium" would accompany a Saints victory over the Indianapolis Colts; and a good time for all even if they lose. "The Saints have been used to losing for so many years, as fans, we lose very well," Frazier said.
In the French Quarter, the afternoon celebrations began with the procession of the "Krewe of Barkus," a mini-parade for dogs. Dogs sporting black and gold feathers, beads, sequins and Saints jerseys marched with their owners through the Quarter.
One yellow labrador retriever walked the parade route past St. Louis Cathedral dressed like Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, complete with stringy blond wig and fake tattoos running down his legs below the No. 88 jersey.
"He has a laid-back surfer personality, like Shockey," said Stas Zhuk, gesturing to 2-year-old Diego being walked by his wife. "He's friendly to everyone."
They moved to New Orleans six months ago, "so we became intense rabid fans in a short amount of time," Zhuk said.
"It's a beautiful day. The Saints are in the Super Bowl. We had to come out and celebrate," said Kathy Graffeo, who had her 5-year-old Beagle mix dressed in a black skirt with gold sequins in tow as she headed to the parade route.
Frazier said Sunday was a remarkable day for the storm-scarred city, where many neighborhoods are still battling to recover from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Saints were making their first appearance in the Super Bowl, a successful Carnival season was underway, and the city had united a day earlier to elect a new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, with 66 percent of the vote over 10 other candidates.
"There's never been a day like this in New Orleans ever," said Frazier. "Ever."