A New Orleans-Style Send-Off for Katrina and Rita Residents of the French Quarter stage a classic New Orleans funeral parade for a visitor they're glad has departed: Hurricane Katrina.
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A New Orleans-Style Send-Off for Katrina and Rita

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A New Orleans-Style Send-Off for Katrina and Rita

A New Orleans-Style Send-Off for Katrina and Rita

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

NPR's Mandalit del Barco went along with a group of die-hard New Orleans residents the other day as they tried to revive the spirit of their city. They held a parade in the French Quarter.

(Soundbite of music)

MANDALIT DEL BARCO reporting:

The procession began as jazz funerals in New Orleans have always done, with a sad, slow march down Bourbon Street, a mock funeral for the two hurricanes.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LEROY JONES: The dirge is a very slow lament. It's usually the type of song that you play when they're bringing the body out of the church or from the funeral parlor. And we're going to bury Katrina, and we're going to bury Rita, and we're going to bring this town back to life.

(Soundbite of music)

DEL BARCO: Jazz trumpeter Leroy Jones led a ragtag group of musicians who've just returned to New Orleans.

Mr. JONES: Most of the musicians are gone, most of the people are gone. The French Quarter looks very vibrant for the most part. But if you drive a little bit, major portions of the city--there's no one there. There's still no electricity, there's still no water. It's like a ghost town.

DEL BARCO: So for New Orleans native Ray Kern, the parade marked the passing of a storm.

Mr. RAY KERN: I mean, still people are going to feel bad about losing a lot of things and loved ones, and--but part of New Orleans tradition is we have some period of mourning, and then we cut it loose--you know, cut the spirit loose.

(Soundbite of music)

DEL BARCO: The parade became an irreverent celebration satirizing the disaster with a special grand marshal.

Unidentified Man #1: I'm Count FEMA. I'm all tied up in red tape here.

DEL BARCO: A fake coffin is drawn by a mule that had been rescued by the National Guard during the storm. Costumed revelers tossed Mardi Gras beads to clean-up crews, rescue workers and soldiers boozing it up on their day off. They passed a moldy refrigerator discarded along the route.

Unidentified Man #2: Yeah, it stinks. (Laughs)

DEL BARCO: Reveler Ian McNolte(ph) said the parade was badly needed to relieve the drudgery of cleaning up the city.

Mr. IAN McNOLTE: This puts us back into our natural habitat. The correct setting for a New Orleanian is to be out in the sun wearing ridiculous clothing, drinking and having fun and carousing with strangers and loved ones, not scrubbing mold out of the basement of your house.

DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, New Orleans.

Unidentified Man #3: And that's the way we do it down in New Orleans.

(Soundbite of music)

MELISSA BLOCK (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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