Today was our final day in the beautiful city of New Orleans, and we’ve had an exciting time Since we had been doing busy community service work for the past four days, Mr. Clary and Ms. Loose-Brown gave us the opportunity to explore the famous French Quarter district to shop and enjoy. After a much needed sleep-in, we began by going to a cafe in the French Quarter for a fantastic brunch. We then worked our way back toward Jackson Square to have a tour of the Hurricane Katrina and Mardi Gras exhibits in the Louisiana State Museum at the Presbyter, right next to St. Louis Cathedral. The museum was very informative and interesting, and struck many of the students at the core when learning about the hardships that were faced by residents who didn’t evacuate and the extensive damage to the city: before, during and after the storm. Many of the students, including myself, felt that they knew about the hurricane but never understood how awful it really was, and this exhibit helped us to understand that much more. Above the Hurricane Katrina exhibit was the Mardi Gras exhibit, which showed the history of the holiday and the roots it has in New Orleans.
Once we finished with the museum, we had until 4 p.m. to enjoy ourselves, while we were encouraged to get fun wigs, masks, makeup, and costumes to wear for the Mardi Gras parades tonight—the night of the Muses. We dispersed into groups at first, separately enjoying the city and all its glory from different angles. Theo and Meg started by taking pictures of the unique architecture, and then went to the boardwalk on the Mississippi River in search of the French Market. We then enjoyed some muffalettas—a kind of Italian sandwiches—and other local specialties at the Napoleon House restaurant with some of our peers. Following Mr. Clary’s recommendation, many of us bought Mardi Gras attire for the parade later that night. Chloe, Jacq, Annie and I bought fun-colored and styled wigs, and Lacey, Kelley, and Chloe bought masquerade-style masks. Once we met up again in Jackson square, we piled into the van and drove toward the parade, parking as close as we could. Although we thought we looked outrageous, nobody else on the street was phased by our fun costumes at the parade. Even Mr. Clary was in costume, with a green suit and green mask with horns (Go Bears!). Mr. Clary informed us on what to do during the parade, such as asking for beads, coins, and shoes—the Muses’ famous ‘throw’—from the passing floats, but mostly to be safe and enjoy. As the floats and marching bands came and went, our piles of beads, our pockets, even our book-bags got bigger with little trinkets and knick-knacks thrown to us by hosts of various floats. After a few hours, the parades were becoming less frequent and we were becoming more tired. In fact, we were all wiped out.
The trip, we would all agree, was fantastic. Like Theo so eloquently phrased it, “This trip is enough for a good taste, but will still leave us very hungry!” We all had a great time, and are dreading returning from the 70 degree weather here to the 20 degree weather back at school. Overall, the trip was informative and inspiring, and many of us would love to return to New Orleans as soon as we can.
- Meg Gardella and Kim Henry