Thursday, October 13, 2005
7 News Features: Back To The Bayou: Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras and New Orleans go together. But with the city suffering devastating losses - can it put on the party in 2006? New Orleans native Carmel Cafiero concludes her special series of reports - "Back to the Bayou" - with the answer and a surprising offer.
WSVN--One of the first phrases children in New Orleans learn is "throw me something." It's "the way" to beg for the beads that are tossed from Mardi Gras floats.
Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero: "No place does Mardi Gras like New Orleans. And nobody builds floats like the family of Blaine Kern."
Blaine Kern: "They call me Mr. Mardi Gras."
Patriarch Blaine Kern has been building the floats for fifty years now. Before that - he helped my mother with her art projects. And this year, he is convinced there will be a Mardi Gras in New Orleans despite the broken lives and broken buildings left behind by Hurricane Katrina.
Blaine Kern: "Please come and join us and help us recover. You'll never forget it for the rest of your life."
In New Orleans - they like to "pass a good time." And many movers and shakers think Mardi Gras 2006 will be important both financially and psychologically. Restaurant owner Raplh Brennen chairs the board for the city's convention center.
Ralph Brennan: "I think we'll be ready. I think we will have a Mardi Gras. Yesterday I talked with Quint Davis, producer of the Jazz and Heritage Festival. He says there will be a festival in late April or early May."
But Mardi Gras, which falls on february 28th, will be the city's first annual event following the catastrophe.
Hans Wandfluh: "The people who really know and love New Orleans are going to lead the parade back to New Orleans."
Hans Wandfluh kept the Royal Sonesta Hotel running throughout Katrina. Since then he's even managed to house law enforcement and the news media under the same roof.
Hans Wandfluh: "Traditions - like our traditions here - food and entertainment and culture - cannot be drowned."
And neither can enthusiasm.
Hans Wandfluh: "Please come here for the Mardi Gras. It's an experience you'll never forget."
Normally to ride in a parade - you have to me a member of a crew - and that's not easy to do. But for 2006 the rules are different. Blaine Kern says for a thousand dollars - you too can be in a parade.
Blaine Kern: "You'll have the opportunity to ride a float, throw beads and have the time of your life."
No matter if you're drawn to the city for the party or the food or the history - people in New Orleans say give them some time and then - please - do come back.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE