Yes, they celebrate Carnival here in Panama but it’s not the same as when I was living four blocks off of St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. After weeks of parades on the weekend the big day finally rolled around. People “masked” and turned out. In the 10 years I lived there I only went down to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street twice. Much too crazy. Up by my house it was primarily families. DRUNK families, but families none the less. The first parade, REX with the King and Queen of Mardi Gras would pass by my house about 10 in the morning and it DIDN’T STOP until about 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Then there was a break for about three hours and the final parade of the year would come by about 8:30 and then it would be over.
Of course, New Orleans is all about music and Mardi Gras is a part of life there so naturally it’s enshrined in song.
Here’s Al “Carnival Time” Johnson.
The one and only Henry Rowland Bird — Professor Longhair
You went looking for the Mardi Gras Indians sometime during the day and hope you’d find a Big Chief.
And on that note I’ll end this with some musical greats: Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Earl King and the Meters (Art and Cyril Neville, George Porter, Leo Nocentelli, and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste
NOTE: In the song “Carnival Time” there’s a phrase that, unless you’re from the New Orleans area would make no sense to you. It’s “Throw the baby out the window.” Now, if you have no frame of reference you might think that it’s about child abuse, but it’s not.
One of the traditions of Mardi Gras is the King Cake. New Orleans isn’t the only place that has the King Cake. Here’s the history of the thing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_cake
Tucked somewhere inside the cake (AFTER it’s been baked) is a small, plastic “baby.”
The tradition is that if you have the baby in your piece you are supposed to throw the next party. People have been known to swallow the baby or to palm it and throw it out a window to avoid having to host a party, thus the phrase.