Lent is almost here, which means many of the world’s 2 billion Christians are preparing for 40 days of fasting, abstention and contemplation. That, in turn, obviously means a lot of people (including here in Fayetteville) are throwing a huge party first. There’s nothing like religious rules to inspire some of the globe’s biggest bashes: Carnival and Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is a celebration of contrasts, of revelry before the calm, cold weather slowly turning to warmth and goofiness and color mixed up with a taste of weirdness. It’s at least a few centuries old, and its deepest roots perhaps go back millennia to the earliest inversion festivals, times when society’s normal rules are temporarily stretched, ignored or turned upside down. Halloween’s one example, and Mardi Gras shares the same inclination for costumes and the celebration of how spirited and fun and wild life can be.
The last time I made it to Fayetteville’s Parade of Fools was an overcast, gray day. Not so yesterday; the afternoon was bright with beautiful and challenging light that made downtown explode with color. I went up there about an hour early to catch the parade prep – some of the best photos can come not during a big event, which everyone and their brother will photograph, but while everyone’s greeting each other and getting ready. The energy was infectious as the parade began, and it was a great time. The vaguely unsettling costumes with the white masks and the brilliant jumpsuits and hats were by far my favorite part.
In the spirit of the day, I also tried out some different photo ideas and styles than I’m used to relying on; hopefully they turned out all right.
It was a great 25th year for the parade, Fayetteville. Laissez les bons temps rouler!