Written by Jacob Greenan and Leah Caroline Jones
Photography by Leah Caroline Jones
Walking up Davis Street we hear laughter and the excited hum of conversation. We join the families gathered against the metal barriers lining the street as a crowd of onlookers peer out of every restaurant and patch of sidewalk.
A couple of bikes pause in front of us at the corner of Davis and Madison, where the parade route bends. The riders smile nervously as more bikes arrive. They seem to have gotten a bit ahead of the action. And then BAM! KAPOW!
We're hit with everything: Skaters whip around the Dallas Zoo float with its lifelike giant hippo sculpture followed by a gang of Elvises on minibikes popping wheelies. Girl Scouts, police on horseback and poofy Pomeranians in strollers and tutus roll by.
I'm waving at the float of Super Villains following behind Batman and crew. The lady Riddler is yelling through a megaphone "Nobody hates Batman more than I do!" when she spies me. "I see you waving, but can you handle a machine gun?" A couple seconds of Yosemite Sam finger guns in the air earns me a shower of beads as the villains round the corner towards 7th Street.
Just before the arrival of some tire squealing Mustangs we get a preview of the night's entertainment as the Big As$ Brass Band slides into view. The trumpet players are dancing down West Davis as the rhythm section kicks out a bouncy New Orleans backbeat. We run to the end of the parade route to catch them one more time before the parade ends.
After the parade, we head straight to Wild Detectives where there's a healthy clientele of coffee drinkers nestled in alcoves with books or typing neatly away at small keyboards. As we stand at the bar, a crowd of parade patrons draped in beads starts to fill in around us.
Slipping out the back door we see the band cooling down from the parade before the patio bar opens. A delicious smell drifts over and I see they're having pizza from Eno's (also a parade sponsor this year). *Why didn't we think of that?*
Just before sunset, the band starts playing and they're joined almost immediately by the shuffling sound of dancing feet on gravel. The Big As$ Brass Band is barely into their first few songs when trombonist Gaika James jumps on a picnic table and begins firing off licks with his trombone jutting skyward.
It's a solid set- the band's horn line is blasting "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" as people sing along and then back into NOLA brass band standards like "St. James Infirmary". Eventually they wind things down by leading a procession across the patio, back through Wild Detectives and out the front door for a short street-side encore.
It's starting to thin out a bit now and we're on our second round of Sazeracs, the first with rye and the second with cognac at the bartender's suggestion. We can't decide which is better- he's taken his time with both and they're delicious. But it's getting late. We head back out onto 8th Street to call an Uber home to find we can't stop smiling after a charming Mardi Gras in Oak Cliff.
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I am a creatively driven and versatile photographer based in Downtown Dallas, currently working as a product and editorial photographer. I continuously search for opportunities to photograph unique and interesting people, places and events forever toting along my beloved Canon 5D Mark iii..