Every year I make a new suit

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mardi Gras Indian

Photo By: Thom Henkel

Everyone knows Mardi Gras isn't just about champagne with Rex and beads and boobies on Bourbon; one of the best parts of the greatest free show on Earth is catching up with the city's Mardi Gras Indian tribes as they hit the streets, guerrilla-style, to show off the pretty they've been working on all year. Here's a partial guide on how to meet the boys on the battlefront this weekend.From noon until 6 p.m. on Lundi Gras, the Mohawk Hunters present Indian practice and a showdown, with the Mohawk Hunters, the Black Eagles, the Creole Wild West and the Wild Magnolias, who'll also throw down with a funky musical set led by Big Chief Bo Dollis. Located at the Canal Street Ferry landing on the Algiers side, the powwow will also feature a full Indian village with arts and crafts and food and beverage booths. On Mardi Gras morning, the Downtown tribe Young Guardians of the Flame take to the streets in honor of the late Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr., starting at 7 a.m. at 3632 N. Johnson St. in the Ninth Ward, and visiting local music royalty along a route that includes stops at the homes of jazz drummers Bob French and Smokey Johnson (in the Habitat for Humanity Musicians' Village) and A.F.O. Records founding member Chuck Badie. They'll also hit Congo Square and St. Louis Cemetery #3 before winding up at Bayou St. John at 9 a.m.

Other beaded and feathered tribesmen and women will be making appearances at the all-day open house Mardi Gras Day at the Backstreet Cultural Museum (1116 St. Claude Ave.) in the Treme, where the open house, with food and drink for sale, starts at 8 a.m. and goes until 5 p.m in honor of Big Chief Al Morris of the North Side Skull and Bone Gang. The New Birth Brass Band and DJ Ernie "Shotgun Joe" Skipper provide tunes for honored guests like Ernie K-Doe's Baby Dolls, the Mandingo Warriors, and Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr.'s White Cloud Hunters, along with Ashton Ramsey and his famous paper suit.

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