Carnival in New Orleans means there are 12 days of musical parading and costumed revelry through the city's crumbling streets. Although 2017 wasn't my first Mardi Gras, I won't presume to try to define it. Each year a delicate ecosystem unfolds, full of contradictions. It is freeing and joyful, but exhausting and vulnerable. Racial and class tensions are at times amplified, and at other times reconciled. Locals welcome tourists, but fear and resent the million visitors who disrupt the city.
Mardi Gras makes you manic. Powered by its intoxicating vigor, I wandered the streets for a dozen days, sleeping only three or four hours a night. I crashed exclusive balls, braved Bourbon Street, and walked miles alongside parading marching bands. Here are some moments from my journey.
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