Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time. The majority of my photos happen that way and it’s incredible the stuff I see that I just can’t make up. I was exploring a cemetery and, I kid you not, out from around a tomb walks a group of people dressed up in the cultural style of Dia de los Muertos. It turns out they were apart of a much larger scene called Super Sunday. My original plan was to go to the St. Patrick’s Day parade but when I realized this was happening I knew that this was, at least in my eyes, much more important to see.
Aside from Mardi Gras Day, the most significant day for the Mardi Gras Indians is their Super Sunday. The New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council always has their Indian Sunday on the third Sunday of March, around St. Joseph’s Day. Their festivities begin at noon in A.L. Davis Park (at Washington & LaSalle Streets) where the Mardi Gras Indians once again dress in their feathers and suits and take to the streets to meet other “gangs”.
Nobody is completely certain when the tradition of Mardi Gras Indians “masking” on St. Joseph’s night began. However, there have been reports of Indians on St. Joseph’s night dating back to before World War I. The custom seems to have come about simply because it was a good opportunity. With all of the Catholic Italians celebrating this holiday in the streets, the Indians were able to blend in and celebrate as well.
Before 1969, the Indians celebrated by coming out at night to meet and greet other “gangs”. In 1969, the first parade was created and rolled through town at night. In 1970, it was switched to a day parade on Sunday afternoon, and has continued in that tradition to this day.
What crazy luck it was for me to be in town when this was happening.
My favorite part about witnessing this was not only the warm welcome and sense of community, but the vibrancy of the people against the decaying backdrop of homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It made for a really surreal juxtaposition of the past and the present. I’m really grateful that I was able to experience it.