On parade during the crazy madness of the Mardi Gras

Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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I’ve been to Ibiza on a girlie clubbing holiday, I partied constantly growing up and I’ve enjoyed the Isle of Wight festival.

But what I’ve experienced so far in my life doesn’t come close to the craziness, the madness of the party town that is New Orleans, USA.

Wow. It’s been Mardi Gras Week here and what originally started as a parade for gay and lesbian rights has now become a central focus of the city.

They make an incredible fuss of it, even having Mardi Gras trees decorated head to toe like Christmas trees!

Twinkly lights are everywhere and floral wreaths hang on the doors of every home.

But the main focus is on partying. All day and all night. It’s one long celebration.

While on our tour of various countries filming for a new TV show about vegetarian food, we were fortunate enough to be invited to take part in one of the Mardi Gras parades.

They have several throughout the day featuring large floats that pass through the streets.

People on the floats throw mardi gras beads and there’s a competition to see who can get the most beads by the end of the parade.

The parade is celebrated by people of all ages all. I’ve seen children as young as a few months old dressed in Mardi Gras babygrows and some men and women as old as 90 dressed head to toe in outrageous costumes!

We were asked to participate in the Orpheus parade, held on Monday.

We were also invited to the full day of preparation at the Convention Centre, where we were given our costumes and attended a press conference where the stars of our parade were announced – including none other than Hollywood legend Gary Sinise, star of Of Mice and Men and CSI New York. I love him!

Of course, I managed to be one of only two people to snatch a photo with the star. Well, it’d be rude not to.

Gary and his band, who tour the world performing for the military, ended the parade at the VIP ball with a stellar performance.

An amazing day and an amazing night in an amazing city.