It might seem like a bit of a stretch: Mardi Gras in the Appalachians. Even short of that, for those of us with a little purple and gold, floats and doubloons in our blood, September seems like a pretty strange time of year for the event. Combine them both and you’ve got a fun Knox Heritage Party on the streets of our little city. You’ve also made a pretty potent gumbo of things I love.
The party is one of a series of Summer Suppers sponsored by Knox Heritage to raise money for their on-going preservation efforts in Knox County. The parties typically carry a theme complete with food, drink, music and often costumes to complete the tableau. See, even preservation nerds know how to have a good time.
Light foods and decorations greeted guests in the courtyard at Kendrick Place, a space which reminds more than the occasional passerby of New Orleans. After partying in that space for a while, a marching band greeted the gathering with a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
A parade ensued, crossing Locust Street walking past Pete’s Coffee Shop onto Union Avenue. Unfortunately for my photographic efforts, they departed early and I ran into them in a constricted space on the street which assisted me in attaining just the right impressionistic look in the pictures I hoped to attain. Or it made the photographs blurry, you decide.
The group meandered their way past the, no doubt, startled movie goers as they gathered on the Square giving them a shot of better music than any they likely heard in the soundtrack to “Footloose,” which happened to be the movie du jour. After crossing the great divide to the north of the city (Summit Hill – sort of a redundant name if you think about it), they settled into another very cool space beside the Emporium at the original level of Gay Street for more revelry.
There party goers enjoyed New Orleans style jazz, more festive beverages, a shrimp boil, jambalaya, and red beans and rice from the Shrimp Dock. I don’t usually talk about businesses and such outside the center city, but this gives me an excuse to say, “People don’t buy seafood anyplace in Knoxville but the Shrimp Dock and think you are getting the real thing.” I don’t usually quote myself, either, but there you go. It’s the real deal. They own the shrimp boats and the trucks that bring the food straight to our city. We’re very blessed to have them.
So, you never know with this crazy bunch up here just what you’ll get on a Friday night in the city. For those of you who haven’t read this blog for very long or haven’t taken the time to go back and read each and every one of my six hundred posts, you might be surprised to learn that Mardi Gras belongs to Mobile, Alabama. I’ll wait until you get back from Wikipedia . . .
So, there you go. Not that New Orleans hasn’t done a decent job with it, but Mobile owns it and still rocks it. Here’s a video to prove it and to give you a preview of why I get cranky when I see lame floats in our Christmas Parade. But that’s a post for December.