Marching on

_MG_1416.JPGSaturday afternoon was misty, dreary and below freezing, and it turns out it takes more than that to stop Fayetteville’s Mardi Gras parade. This one was the city’s 27th and my fourth. The weather certainly cut down the size of the crowd from past years, but everyone who came out cheered extra loud, decked themselves out in extra color and dove for thrown beads and candy with extra enthusiasm in spite of the gray day.

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_MG_1581.JPGHere’s to a happy official Mardi Gras this week and a happy Lent after, for those observing it.

I meant to end here, but all of that mist and drizzle spend the evening and overnight freezing to every surface. Roads and sidewalks this morning around my apartment were too slick for much more than slow hobbling. The grass was crunchy. This wasn’t frost; it was a half-centimeter or so of solid, unadorned ice. I had to see more.

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_MG_1692.JPGThanks for looking, and stay warm out there.

Bons Temps

_C1_2110.JPGLent 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.

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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.

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It was a great 25th year for the parade, Fayetteville. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Dan