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New Orleans Hosts Dog Parade During Mardi Gras

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras celebrations are underway in a city still reeling from Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding nearly six months ago. Most carnival parades feature large, elaborate floats carrying dozens of bead-tossing people dressed in costumes. But, as VOA's Greg Flakus reports from New Orleans, there is one parade that stays much closer to the ground.

New Orleans has been through a lot in recent months, but for a few hours during the Mardi Gras kick-off weekend, it really went to the dogs.

This was the 14th annual Krewe of Barkus parade, featuring dogs and their owners dressed up for this year's theme -- "The Wizard of Paws. There is no Place Like Home," a reference to the movie, "The Wizard of Oz," that also plays on the effort people and their pets are making to return home -- to New Orleans.

Some dogs looked downright human and some humans looked a lot like dogs.

Political satire, of course, was part of the parade, even if some of it was lost on the canines.

The parade of dogs was a welcome relief from the hard work of recovery for many people here.

Virginia Blanc, her husband Charlie, and their two dogs, Sean and Koko, brought a mock-up of their house with its damaged roof covered by a blue tarpaulin. She says this parade means a lot to them.

"Well, it is a wonderful thing to do. We get to meet up with a lot of our neighborhood friends and friends from all over the city and some of us especially come to this parade, you know, fur-covered or not,” she says. “We absolutely love coming to this, no matter where we are located, although we are in mid-city, generally under that tarp…"

"That is a FEMA tarp!" exclaims Charlie.

As the parade wound down, there was not a cat in sight, although at least one other animal [a rooster] snuck in somehow.

It's all part of what makes this city and its Mardi Gras something unique in America.