Big balloons were a hit at New Orleans Christmas parade | Louisiana Festivals | nola.com

2022-12-04 14:19:37 By : Ms. Nash Huang

A giant balloon of a reindeer is adjusted to fit under traffic lights during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A Hanukkah balloon floats in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate) Graduation Party Decoration

Big balloons were a hit at New Orleans Christmas parade  | Louisiana Festivals | nola.com

Passion Dance Center performs during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Edna Karr Marching Band dances and performs in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Santa waves from a float during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

An alligator float travels down Decatur street during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The 610 Stompers dance during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Muff-a-Lottas dance in front of a giant balloon ginger man during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A Children's Hospital float by Kern Studios rolls down Decatur street in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A parade-goer catches beads during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A reindeer full of helium travels down Decatur street during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Lacey Perry yells for throws on during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A snowman balloon hovers above the ground during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser rides in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Jamaal Eric Jackson dances to Big Freedia during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Sassyracs marching krewe dance on in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Edna Karr Marching Band dances and performs in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Krewe of the Rolling Elvi get festive and roll down North Peters street during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A horse wears bells in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Crowds gather at the start of the parade to watch the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Stilt walkers tower over parade-goers as they travel down North Peters street during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A giant balloon of a reindeer is adjusted to fit under traffic lights during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A Hanukkah balloon floats in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Passion Dance Center performs during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Edna Karr Marching Band dances and performs in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Santa waves from a float during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Muff-a-Lottas dance in front of a giant balloon ginger man during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A parade-goer catches beads during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A reindeer full of helium travels down Decatur street during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Lacey Perry yells for throws on during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A snowman balloon hovers above the ground during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser rides in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Jamaal Eric Jackson dances to Big Freedia during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Sassyracs marching krewe dance on in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Edna Karr Marching Band dances and performs in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade on Decatur street in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Krewe of the Rolling Elvi get festive and roll down North Peters street during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A horse wears bells in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Crowds gather at the start of the parade to watch the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Stilt walkers tower over parade-goers as they travel down North Peters street during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

With 24 major floats and beaucoup bands, dance troupes and marching clubs among them, the first Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade was quite a spectacle Saturday. Clocking in at more than two hours, it certainly exceeded the scale of many a Mardi Gras season parade.

The cheering crowds, flying beads and booming music were all familiar to New Orleans parade regulars. The big difference, besides Santa Claus and all the Christmas accoutrement, was the things hovering high above the street.

“I really liked the balloons,” Uptown resident Nichole Drew said. “We don’t have those in our parades.”

“The inflatables are super cool,” agreed Andre Charitat, who lives in the Lower Garden District. “And the process of blowing them up and all of that, is like having a new medium.”

Drew and Charitat were speaking of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade-style large-scale, helium-filled balloons made to resemble a candy cane, snowflake, gingerbread man, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

An alligator float travels down Decatur street during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Rudolph, who stood roughly 40 feet tall, was the biggest of the bunch Saturday. Like so many human participants in New Orleans parades, Rudolph started off strong. And he almost made it the whole way, but the poor deer collapsed in the home stretch and never saw the end of the route.

The balloon was inflated in an empty lot on North Peters Street in Faubourg Marigny on Saturday morning. At one point in the process, the 20 volunteer handlers who held Rudolph to the earth broke into song: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you'll go down in his…to…ry!”

Restrained from floating away by volunteers holding thin ropes, Rudolph wafted along Decatur Street and past Jackson Square, dipping and dodging traffic signals. Somewhere along the way, his handlers, known as flyers, learned to trot briskly in a circle, causing Rudolph to spin slowly above them.

Rudolph drifted confidently along Canal Street until reaching St. Charles Avenue, where the tangle of streetcar lines above the road presented a challenge. The inflated ornaments, snowflake and other smaller balloons were simply been reeled in by their handlers and slipped beneath the obstacle. But Rudolph was considerably bulkier.

The giant Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer balloon in the new Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade had a tough time getting under the streetcar lines and eventually gave up. Search for the story on NOLA.com.

Rudolph’s flyers held him down to the earth with a skein of cords, as the Lilliputians had done to Gulliver. It didn’t look especially dignified, but as the flyers tugged, it seemed possible that Rudolph would limbo under the web. And he did.

The trouble was, the streetcar lines continued up St. Charles Avenue, and Rudolph, made of sheer nylon fabric, couldn’t be expected to slide along the abrading pavement all the way to Lafayette Square where the parade ended.

By the time he reached Poydras Street, Rudolph was done. He was deflated, literally and, presumably, emotionally. He lay in a shapeless heap. So did his pal Frosty.

The Regional Transit Authority representatives who had watched Rudolph be tugged through the knothole at Canal and St. Charles said nobody should have been surprised he didn’t fit. The tall yellow sticks they held to illustrate the height of the streetcar lines had foretold Rudolph’s fate. The big squeeze, in their opinion, should have never been attempted.

The RTA reps, who did not share their names, said the electricity to the lines had been off the whole time. 

Lonka Rene, a professional balloon wrangler who had come in from New Jersey to officiate over the lighter-than-air objects, wryly said, “Rudolph did lots of tricks today.”

Rene’s fellow balloon authority, Jasper Henderson of North Carolina, was unfazed by Rudolph’s disheveled condition on Poydras. There had been incidents in the past, he confided.

Henderson congratulated the volunteer balloon flyers for their good spirit, and commented that the New Orleans parade watchers “were the best crowd ever.”

A Children's Hospital float by Kern Studios rolls down Decatur street in the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

The Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade, was, as the name would suggest, a promotion for the Uptown medical center, and all of the floats and balloons were sponsored by various businesses and organizations, from the Windsor Court Hotel to the National WWII Museum, from the Morial Convention Center to Chick-Fil-A.

Such sponsorships might have seemed odd to seasoned New Orleans parade goers, because local law forbids commercialization of floats in the 12 days before Mardi Gras, when the vast majority of the town’s parades take place. But Saturday's float advertising, which was generally rather subtle, didn’t trouble spectators Drew and Charitat.

“If it’s going for a good cause, I don’t mind it,” Drew said.

“Yeah, this makes sense. It’s a cause," Charitat said. “The beauty of Mardi Gras is that it’s for no cause."

The 610 Stompers dance during the Children's Hospital New Orleans Holiday Parade in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

On your marks, get set — ho, ho, ho!

Imagine a three-story pyramid of iridescent bubbles, Mardi Gras Indian queens wearing lighted suits, a 12-foot lighted sunflower, a silent out…

Mardi Gras 2023 is Feb. 21, and Carnival starts up a few weeks earlier, on Jan. 6 as always. 

Email Doug MacCash at dmaccash@theadvocate.com. Follow him on Instagram at dougmaccash, on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. 

Big balloons were a hit at New Orleans Christmas parade  | Louisiana Festivals | nola.com

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