Samedi Gras and Ash Wednesday

by Nikita Weymann on February 26th, 2018

Determined to test the truth of William Blake’s proverb “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom,” a bacchanalian throng of New Toulouse citizens and visitors ate, drank, and reveled their way through the Carnival season, which culminated in the annual Samedi Gras Parade on Saturday, February 10. Masked men, flirtatiously fleshy women, and even a team of stately unicorns rolled through the streets, either leading or atop a series of intricately wrought floats, all of which stood out as pristine works of art. A further delight was the surprise appearance of Ms. Maggie Hawksby as Queen of Carnival, a revelation which warmed the memories of even the most inebriated Taloosters. Ms. Hawksby reigned with elegance over Carnival just a short two years ago, and her presence served as a poignant reminder of our fair city’s storied history and deep tradition.

Queen of Carnival Maggie Hawksby (photo by Andrea Jones)

Samedi Gras Parade (photo by Joss Floss)

Masked man (photo by Andrea Jones)

Masked dancers (photo by Andrea Jones)

While eager onlookers were treated to a multitude of different “throws” from the float riders, the prize catch of the season was the Krewe of Wulfenbach’s engraved silver beer stein. Though there were reports of at least two unaware onlookers requiring a set of stitches to repair gashes resulting from stray steins, those with quick reflexes and sticky mitts came away with a keepsake both lovely and useful.

Dancing fool (photo by Andrea Jones)

Reveler with Wulfenbach stein (photo by Andrea Jones)

Having arrived at the end of the road of excess, the more pious among us marked the beginning of the Lenten season by attending the Ash Wednesday liturgy at the recently renamed Our Lady of Wisdom chapel. Visiting archbishop Aloysius Nolasco presided over the solemn service, marking the foreheads of each penitent with ashes, a reminder that our lives, like our revels, are impermanent.

Our Lady of Wisdom (photo by Lepanto)

Ash Wednesday crowd (photo by Shannon Spoonhunter)

Ash Wednesday service (photo by Lepanto)

Performing the liturgy (photo by Lepanto)

With Carnival officially closed, one jelly-legged and red-eyed penitent paused while leaving the chapel and remarked, “Holy and profane, sordid and sacred … that’s New Toulouse. That’s the rhythm of our lives.” He then tipped his hat, bid me adieu, and shuffled off bayou way, singing out to the stars, “Dum vivimus vivamus” (“While we live, let us live”).

Diogenes Teufelsdröckh resides in New Toulouse Bayou, where he drinks bourbon, wrestles mudbugs, and ponders the Mysteries.

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