Last night we had dinner at the venerable Grand Oaks Mansion, strolling the terraces and gardens as we ate traditional New Orleans cuisine (most of which I didn't eat because seafood is vile, but interjecting that is ruining the mood) beneath the stars:
We meandered over the paths and grounds beneath the stately oaks, dripping with Spanish moss, shivering in the air conditioning that was set too high.
The mansion grounds were air conditioned because there is no mansion. The grounds are fake. The stars are tiny lights in the painted ceiling. The oaks are made of plaster. The entire venue is inside a warehouse, down by the river in a neighborhood filled with barred windows and burned out lots.
And yet it was still somehow magical.
The best part of the night wasn't even dinner, or the mansion. It was exploring the warehouse complex, Mardi Gras World, where they make and store the floats that are used for Mardi Gras parades. We didn't really know what to expect when we pulled up:
and when you first enter you can't see very much, just an entrance and some random large figures:
but then you go around a corner and you're in the warehouse and it's huge and full of figures!
Some of the figures are easily recognizable:
and some are pretty famous:
but mostly they're just random:
I have no idea how they keep track of them, because there didn't seem to be any pattern to the way they were placed or stored and, as I said, the warehouse complex is huge:
It was like being on the backlot at Disney World, and even though everything was completely fake it was still sort of magical.