A Mardi Gras Parade in Deep Ellum: Scenes From the Free Man's New Tradition
Deep Ellum got a taste of Mardi Gras this weekend in the best possible way. In order to mark the occasion, Commerce Street's The Free Man Cajun Cafe organized a proper New Orleans second line horn parade that circled the neighborhood. Owner and proprietor John Jay Myers lead the charge on bass drum, while 10 to 15 of The Free Man's regularly showcased musicians and a crowd of about 70 followed.
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Buzzing patrons met at the Free Man, where the festivities started off at 6 p.m. sharp. The band started down Commerce and toward the Alligator Cafe on Elm Street. Trombones and trumpets blared while a saxophone adorned with silk roses performed a solo down the street. People stepped out into the street to take pictures and ended up joining the march themselves. Beads were thrown, scarves were waved and flamboyant multicolored costumes abounded.
After a fifteen minute beer break at Alligator Cafe, we started back down Elm toward Deep Ellum's newest New Orleans themed bar, Twilight Lounge. Kids in line for the sold-out Dom Kennedy show at Trees cheered and caught beads while taking iPhone videos. The band played "When The Saints Go Marching In," and for a second, it felt like the whole neighborhood was singing along together. We marched through the front doors of Twilight, strutting and dancing to the back patio where the party continued.
After another drink stop, we were back down Elm, heading for the big finale where we had started at The Free Man. As patrons overflowed the sidewalk, traffic behind the parade slowed to a snail's pace. Some honked out of annoyance, others out of support. As the band reprised "When The Saints Go Marching," one thing was clear: Deep Ellum needs more public music.
Luckily, if you missed The Free Man's Mardi Gras kick off, you have another chance to make it to the party. On Fat Tuesday, The Free Man will host another parade in an attempt to outdo themselves.