Art Attack – Mardi Gras – PG
People are shocked when I mention I’ve never been to New Orleans. They look at me like my Gay Card should be revoked and shredded.
New Orleans, and especially Mardi Gras, has always made me feel uneasy. Maybe it was the Mardi Gras acid-trip-gone-bad at the end of Easy Rider that affected this impressionable 14 year-old. As one who explored the dark side plenty in his youth, I intuitively knew, like heroin, to stay away.
There is no logic to my avoidance of the Crescent City. I survived the hedonistic island Key West for 13 years, through the sex/drugs/rock ‘n roll 1980s, no less.
Here in our little mountain town we have Eureka Gras – a ten-day Mardi Gras that has been steadily growing the past seven years – complete with pub-crawls, sold-out balls, a day and night-time parade, and a Royal Court very much into the pageantry.
Katrina-exile Dan Ellis deserves much credit. His undying enthusiasm and organizing skills continue to shape Eureka Gras into an event that packs the town in normally dormant February.
Credit should also be given to Global Warming for providing all these balmy winter days.
While far from being Disneyesque, Eureka Gras is still totally PG, lacking any hint of New Orleans-style debauchery – unless one stumbles into a certain local bar after 3 a.m. The only breasts you’re likely to see are on a restaurant plate, and even our local, lovable vixen in thigh-high stiletto boots and black latex dress, straddling a giant jaguar, leading the Eureka Gras parade, exudes homespun sweetness.
Local artist Jack Miller, who with wife, Sabina, also sought higher ground post-Katrina, has been responsible for many wonderful floats throughout the years. Jack puts his indelible stamp on everything, whether it’s the beautiful girl riding high in the red high heel, the water nymphs dancing around the water wheel or the aforementioned Jaguar pulling a chariot of vivacious women.
Eureka Gras would not be the same without Zeek Taylor. Zeek ups the ante every year with more lavish costumes and floats that get increasingly taller. This year’s giant peace symbol headdress was literally over the top, measuring three and a half feet high.
When you live in a small town you don’t have the anonymity to get wild and crazy because you know you could be one Jägermeister shot away from winding up in the local police report.
So here it is Ash Wednesday and the party’s over. Maybe it’s age, but I like the sweetness of our Eureka Gras. I participate in a couple of events that usually end well before midnight, enjoy snapping pictures and watching kids catch beads in the parades, and am grateful it’s been a long time since I’ve landed behind some bar stool at 3 a.m. It’s nice to wake up with nothing to repent.
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