A New Orleans Halloween

A New Orleans Halloween
October 26, 2010
By Marcie Dickson

Long before Drew and I experienced Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, we made the mistake of walking from Canal Street to Frenchmen via Bourbon on Halloween night –– not the greatest idea, in retrospect. Of course at the time, we didn’t know Mardi Gras is tame in comparison to Bourbon on Halloween; we’d just moved here and had a friend visiting and wanted to do something fun.

Crazy doesn’t equate to fun. And New Orleans is considered the most haunted city in America, right?
The night started with dinner and dorky picture-taking at Nacho Mamas, after which we caught the streetcar from Tulane to Canal Street and proceeded down Bourbon. Practically everyone, except us, was in costume, inching down the street and sidewalks, pushing, gigging and shrieking. Masked men circled the crowds roaring chain saws, and others groped unmasked revelers, including me.

At one point I lost the others halfway down Bourbon and panicked. Seemingly stranded, I wrapped myself on a urine-soaked street sign and closed my eyes. I stood there for a few moments, taking in the horror show, until I felt a familiar hand grab me and tug me along.

By the time we made it to Frenchmen, Drew and I were like, “Uh, never again” while our friend was on Cloud 9 — he’d never seen unbridled Bourbon pandemonium before. Neither had we, but I suspect we were more prudish at the time. Frenchmen (the locals’ Quarter) was a much better place to celebrate Halloween, even though I got sneered at for impulsively hijacking a choreographed rendition of MJ’s "Thriller."

All this happened two years ago, and since that time, we know when to stay away from the Quarter. This year, however, despite my vow to never return, I feel compelled to let my sister-in-law experience it so she can see how crazy it gets. In addition to that, though, we plan to eat inordinate amounts of food; go on a cemetery tour (any suggestions?); hear a few sets at Voodoo Fest; and, I hope, make it to the Saints game against the Steelers. We’ll also go to a couple of relatively tame Halloween parties.

Until then, I’m on a fierce lookout for this Halloween costume. One thing I’ve learned about New Orleans — aside from avoiding the Quarter on certain occasions — is that locals will “costume” for any reason, so Halloween really becomes a challenge of wits and creativity when deciding which costume to make, hawk or buy.

Happy Halloween, y’all.
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