In New Orleans, we use a lot of the same words and phrases as other places do, they just don’t mean the same thing. In most places, Super Sunday conjures up the Super Bowl or perhaps any Sunday during football season. If pushed to think of the term with New Orleans in mind, you may think the Sunday before Mardi Gras. With that last one, you’re getting warmer for sure. Super Sunday, this year on March 20, is one of the most important days of the year for the Mardi Gras Indians and takes place on the Sunday closest to St. Joseph’s Day. Why the Mardi Gras Indians mask (don their costumes) and parade on this day is uncertain, but one thing that is certain is it is a special New Orleans tradition to witness.
If you’ve never been to a Super Sunday, it is an amazing spectacle to watch the Mardi Gras Indians dressed in their intricate suits and parade through the streets. This year, the parade is expected to start at A.L. Davis Park on the corner of Washington Avenue and LaSalle Street at noon. The procession is expected to head down LaSalle, turn left down Martin Luther King Blvd until it reaches Claiborne Ave., where it will turn left again to Washington. The parade is expected to make its final turn down Washington Ave. and return to A.L. Davis Park.
While watching the parade, be on the look out for the Spy Boy, the Flag Boy and the Big Chief. The Spy Boy leads the procession, often blocks ahead and serves as a scout to warn the Flag Boy of any other Mardi Gras Indian “gangs” he may see. The Flag Boy, a block or two behind the Spy Boy, transmits the Spy Boy’s reports to the Big Chief. The Big Chief, leader of the “gang” and a block or two behind the Flag Boy, takes decisive action based on the Spy Boy’s reports. His decisions are relayed to the Spy Boy through Flag Boy with special signals. Find out more on the different Indians you’ll see at the parade and some history of the Mardi Gras Indians.
Super Sunday in New Orleans isn’t the Big Game, but with its pageantry, meaning and deep history, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Local’s tips: The noon start time is soft. Don’t expect the festivities and processions to start until a little later in the afternoon. Be respectful of the Indians, and only take photos if you have permission and it’s appropriate.