Feb 12, 2024 - Culture

Pooper scoopers and 6 more unsung heroes of New Orleans Mardi Gras

Photo shows horses walking on the parade route followed by a crew with a wheelbarrow and shovels.

Here's to you, pooper scoopers, for keeping the Muses parade route manure-free. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

It takes thousands of people to put on New Orleans Mardi Gras, aka the world's best free party. While the krewes deserve credit, I'd like to thank some of the unsung heroes.

Why it matters: Everyone needs to work together to make Mardi Gras a success.

Pole-carrying truck: You, oh tall one, bring us joy because you signal the parade is about to start.

  • Your pole marks the highest point on the floats and checks that everything will fit under the trees and power lines. It doesn't always work, but hey, nobody's perfect, right?
Photo shows a red tractor pulling a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans
This tractor driver expertly pulled the Professor Longhair float in the 2022 Krewe of Freret parade. Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Tractor drivers: I see you in your John Deeres and Kubotas pulling the floats.

Pooper scoopers: Horses are an integral part of Mardi Gras, but they aren't running to the portapotty to do their business. That's where the pooper scooper crew comes in with their wheelbarrows and shovels.

  • One year, the crowd around me erupted in applause when the crew cleaned up a pile of horse manure that had been parting the marching bands like the Red Sea. It was a lovely Mardi Gras moment.

Bartenders and food service workers: Y'all are the real superstars of Mardi Gras. You are blowing and going for days, serving locals and tourists alike. Thank you for keeping our bellies fed and our cups full. Huzzah!

Photo shows Derrick Tabb, co-founder of The Roots of Music Marching Band, at a parade.
Derrick Tabb, co-founder of The Roots of Music Marching Band, attends the 2022 Krewe of Freret parade in New Orleans. Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Band parents: Thank you for keeping us safe from the trombones with your reminders to "get back." You are doing the Lord's work.

Street-cleaning crews: You are the magic of Mardi Gras, transforming a trash-covered party venue into a clean streetscape in under an hour with your army of rake-carrying workers and Zamboni-like street sweeping machines.

  • And you usually reward those of us stragglers after the parade with a few extra spins and a wave. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Catch basin gutter buddies: Your simplicity masks your incredibly important job — keeping beads out of our drainage system.

  • Our relationship with you is a little more complicated after the flooding rains earlier this month, but we still appreciate you, boo.

Bottom line: We all work together to make Mardi Gras the most magical time of the year. Thank you to the krewes, float builders, neighborhood residents for sharing your space, police, city officials and all those who play a role.

  • I'll see you on the route.
Photo shows costumed people walking away from a parade carrying ladders
We're so jealous of people who live near the route and don't have to make that long walk back to their car that's parked 20 blocks away. Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images
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