New Orleans, LA --
Thousands of people dressed in colorful costumes and
clothing covered the roads during the
annual New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations.
Mardi Gras is held yearly for people to enjoy their lives to
the fullest before the upcoming Christian observance of Lent, a 40 day period starting
on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday where Christians choose to give up
something they cherish as a way of “fasting,” to emulate Jesus’ 40 day fast
These individuals travel from all over the world to be a
part of the Mardi Gras festivities. Among the many different groups who
attended this year’s festivities was the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band.
“We are pretty much here to be the face of the Marine
Corps,” said Sgt. Sean Salazar, musician in the 2nd MAW band. “We are basically
representing Marines past, present, and who can’t be there who are forward
Before each parade, the crowd grew increasingly quiet as the
2nd MAW band started the procession off with the national anthem. After that, an
explosion of applause would erupt as the Marines stepped off and began marching
down the crowded streets of New Orleans.
As the band approached different crowds throughout the
parade, they were met with rounds of applause. Throughout the deafening screams
you could hear the repeated expressions of gratitude shouted toward the
“We have a great
group of Marines,” said Salazar. “People say thank you for what you do and your
service and a lot of times people take that for granted but they’re not really
only thanking us but they are thanking the entire Marine Corps.”
“That one handshake that they give to us is like giving 50
other Marines that handshake,” said Salazar.
The band played from a large repertoire of music during the
parades, which included traditional Mardi Gras music such as “Bourbon Street”
and “Rampart Street Parade.” The band played the Marines’ Hymn and other
classics as well.
The band would periodically stop throughout the parade and
perform different demonstrations for the crowd. During this time is when the
spectators got to intermingle with the Marines.
“It gets kind of crazy,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Dalton, a saxophone
player in the band. “Everybody wants to be able to get a picture with you,
everybody wants to talk with you. It’s only times when we actually stop that we
interact with the crowds around us.”
“It’s quite a special thing to be able to talk with some of
the folks that have never seen a Marine before,” said Dalton.
As the Marines marched down the congested streets, people of
all walks of life, ethnicities and cultures cheered.
As the parade ended, the tired Marines, still with smiles on
their faces, loaded up the bus and can only wait until the next opportunity to
showcase their abilities and represent the Marine Corps. Until then, the
Marines will do what they do best and practice and until they perfect their