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New Orleans in the mountains

Chad Abraham

Even the weather had New Orleans in mind Tuesday in Snowmass Village.The gray clouds held sprinkles of rain – in February – but the atmosphere was much more colorful on the mall, where the annual Mardi Gras parade honored the spirit of the battered Southern city.New Orleans was on the mind of Bob Wolff. The 73-year-old from Santa Monica, Calif., wore a gold, green and purple jester hat, with strands of beads over a similarly colored vest.”I lived there years ago, and it’s so sad,” he said. “So little seems to get done. Now only half the trash has been cleared. I have friends who still live there.”Hurricane Katrina damaged some of his friends’ homes, and “I know musicians who lost their complete homes, their instruments, everything.”He said his gym in Santa Monica is raising money for an organization in New Orleans that is helping replace musical instruments lost in the storm and floods. His gym also paid off Tuesday morning, when Wolff participated in the Mother of All Ascensions race.Told that, given his effort of the morning, he could quaff a few guilt-free drinks, he agreed.”I think that’ll happen,” he laughed.Several people in the parade, including members of the Glenwood Springs High School marching band, wore short sleeves, underscoring the weird weather.James Marlow of Atlanta was also watching the festivities. He said he, too, has friends in the Big Easy.”They’ve had a hard time, it’s complicated,” he said. “My friend lives in the old section, and his whole world is fine. But 10 blocks [away] it’s bad.”Like their Southern counterparts, local revelers could drown their sorrows. Jason Brownlee (also in short sleeves) was selling beer and wine for the Stew Pot at an outdoor stand. He said he had gone through about nine cases in 90 minutes, or about 2.5 beers a minute.”It’s been slamming,” said Brownlee, who lives most of the year in Costa Rica. “Everyone’s in a good mood.”The parade took a chance in the beginning, as two large, green-and-purple dice walked down the mall to lead the procession. One die slowed down long enough to explain.”We thought it would be a good way to get the parade rolling,” said Michelle Kinkelaar, 24, of Snowmass Village. Her tongue, pierced with a bright green stud, was firmly in cheek. “We’re having a blast.”Back in the parade, bagpipers drew huge applause as they proceeded past Suzanne Garrison of Snowmass Village. Around her neck appeared to be perhaps half of the 24,000 beads thrown during the celebration.She said she was certain the good cheer was also tinted with sadness over the catastrophe in New Orleans.”I’m sure it’s on everybody’s mind,” Garrison said.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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