Saint Anne New Orleans

A walk down to the riverside with Saint Anne

Society of St. Anne is a Mardi Gras krewe. It’s not a Super Krewe, it’s a small marching group of neighbors and friends. It was founded in 1969 by artists and designers from the French Quarter, Marigny and the Bywater Area, many of whom are gay. Saint Anne was created for a need to bring the parades back to the small streets and neighborhoods. These smaller parades travel by foot and don’t have large floats. St. Anne’s parade is known for the ribbon-covered hula hoops that are mounted on long poles. These are the beacons that the marchers follow. Originally the St. Anne’s parade ended at the edge of the French Quarter at Canal Street and they would watch the T-Rex Super Krewe parade’s large floats. During the early years of AIDS, many of the members and their friends started dying. St. Ann’s organizers decided to extend their parade path down to the river where they would remember their friends and family. Often they would cast their ashes into the Mississippi River. I had been to many parades in New Orleans but I had never been to “Mardi Gras”, the main big parade. The day started early with trying out our last-minute costume changes; standing a bit too long in front of the mirror, and looking and pulling at the costumes. Rushing out the door, we had a meeting spot, a gathering point in the Bywater neighborhood at one of the member’s homes. We walked from Marigny seeing interesting costumes and homes decorated in Mardi Gras regalia. We arrived at the pre-party gathering point and there I really witnessed some beautiful elaborate costumes. Some were very scary and yet captivating at the same time. There was some food, mostly Kings cake and coffee, last-minute energy food for the march. And of course, lots of alcohol, fuel for the spirit. Eventually, we started walking towards Canal Street, our first destination. As we walked along, we saw many other people dressed in crazy costumes, waving and gifting us positive energy. The mood was infectious, people were smiling, dancing and the weather was gorgeous, totally clear but not too hot. Just before Canal Street everyone rested in the middle of the street for maybe 40 minutes. And then we started our way down to the Riverside. Finally arriving, there were people waiting for us. The band was playing loud and the energy was still high. Eventually, the music stopped and there was a long moment of silence. Tears fell and we collectively remembered the people we have lost. The crowd slowly dispersed and it was off to the next Mardi Gras party.