The Fabulous Bourbon Street Awards, Mardi Gras costume contest

Under a pure blue sky, the annual Bourbon Street Awards Mardi Gras costume contest got underway in the French Quarter at noon (Feb. 13). The competition draws Carnival’s biggest and best costumes, some of which tower more than twice the height of the wearer. This year, a 15-foot Golden Gate Bridge and the equally tall Space Shuttle appeared teetering on the small stage.

The engineering on many of the costumes was marvelous. But height and craftsmanship weren’t all that counted. The crowd appreciated inventiveness and spirit in costuming above all. Kim Jong-un’s chorus line, John Besh and Alon Shaya’s reconciliation, an appearance by the U.S. Winter Olympics team, and a troupe of frantic silver people with curlers in their hair, were all crowd-pleasers.


Comedians Varla Jean Merman (dressed as Superwoman) and Ryan Landry (wearing a Leggo my Eggo waffle print hoop skirt) brilliantly wrangled the parade of costumers, sang, and otherwise cajoled the crowd during the intermittently organized event that remains one of the highlights in all of Carnival.

Here’s a secret: During Mardi Gras New Orleans people don’t put on disguises; they take their disguises off. 

Doug MacCash has the best job in the world, covering art, music, and culture in New Orleans. Contact him via email at Follow him on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. As always, please add your point of view to the comment stream.

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