I got a message on Facebook - there was going to be a Second Line parade this Saturday to raise awareness of the need for more funding for the Public Defenders office - a shameful situation in the state of Louisiana and particularly in Orleans Parish. In the local office, only eight attorneys are available to handle up to 350 defendant's cases.
The parade was to start in the Treme, at Kermit Ruffins' Mother-in-Law Lounge on Claiborne. I parked past Esplanade on Villiere Street, and walked up to Claiborne; I heard the sound of a brass band and thought - Oh, I missed the start! So I hurried up and joined the throng parading under the I-10 bridge.
It was a respectable crowd, many people dressed in white suits with bright pink accoutrements - hats, feather boas, scarves, parasols. There was a Mardi Gras Indian chief in bright pink regalia, and, dancing in the lead, a Spy Boy in white feathers dashed with hot pink and green. There was also a horse-drawn coach, with a carriage that looked like a hearse.
I thought to myself, well, it's probably symbolic of the death of equal justice. Right? I didn't see any signs indicating support for the Public Defender's office, but I know that I am new to this city, and still learning how folks do things down here.
The parade crossed under the bridge and reversed itself; then wrapped back around and went down St. Phillip Street and disbanded right in front of the Charbonnet Funeral Home. That was when I put it together.
We are so used to parades here, now - parades to celebrate the annual milestone for a Social Aid and Pleasure Club, or to celebrate a wedding, a conference at the Convention Center, or the life of a celebrity musician. But second line parades are also part of a long tradition of celebrating the passing of loved ones. Often called "jazz funerals" this tradition couples the solemn march and hymns of a funeral with a joyous and rollicking celebration of the life of the person who has passed.
|Another marcher, also documenting the parade.|