Streets come alive as Mardi Gras hits town

The 2nd Chiang Mai Mardi Gras was something the City of Chiang Mai and the organizing committee can be proud of. Having learned from the hick-ups of the year 2001, this year proved to be a roaring success - Chiang Mai was in party mood!

Mr. Saxman, Asia’s No.1 Saxophone player, during the warm-up with his band. They all got really warm shortly after.

Playing various saxophones, singing, step-dancing - Mr. Saxman did it all.

For the opening ceremony a huge parade dragged through Chang Klan Road, starting off with a lot of noise and smoke, generated by 150 Vespas and Harley Davidsons, which were greeted by Mayor Boonlert and other officials from the stage.

The parade consisted of different parts, both cultural and fancy. Mardi Gras featuring Lanna and Thai culture started off with a huge drum from the last century, the sound of which in those days was meant to encourage soldiers to fight for their country.

Part 2 was the “Star of Mardi Gras” Contest, with a parade of fascinating dresses, presented by beautifully made-up boys and girls from schools in and around Chiang Mai. Also, the “Miss Mardi Gras Contest” couldn’t be missed. What is a party without a “Miss”?

The Carabaos Lek (left) and Ad in full swing.

One of the youngest spectators, obviously enjoying himself as much as Daddy.

All smiles after the concert (from left) Councilor Pornchai Jitnavasathien, Chiang Mai Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn and Mr. Saxman.

That’s what Mardi Gras is all about - dancing in the streets to the hot rhythms and beats.

Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn signed the world’s largest fan, yet another attempt to get Chiang Mai into the Guinness Book of Records. The fan needed 21 people to build it, 20 artists to paint it, and will have a diameter of 18 meters.

An estimated audience of 4000 was treated to an opening concert from “Carabao and Friends”.

The parade was divided into ‘traditional’ and ‘fancier’ parts; this float represents the more dramatic art of khao loy.

One of the more fashionable floats.

The main theme was music! Music for everybody; music for all tastes. Reading through the program, everyone had their choice. If you were partial to Thai music, it was wonderful: Day 1 was yours, as it featured Ad & Lek Carabao and friends. They all came, standing in the streets, humming, singing and taking pictures.

However, if this was not your cup of tea and you were more inclined to listen to old Rock n’ Roll, day 2 was yours, as it featured music from the 50s, with the ‘Young Once’, songs from Sir Cliff Richard & The Shadows, slow songs from the Pretenders, and the crowd was swinging. Then music from the 60s with the ‘Beatlenuts’, and like the name suggests, all time favorites from John, Paul, George and Ringo. The 70s were represented by the phenomenal ‘Dynamics’, plus the ‘Brothers Nuvo’, Jo, John and Kong. By this time in the proceedings, no one was sitting or just walking by. Young and old on the streets were rocking and rolling, Thais as much as foreigners. No one could resist the beat, this ‘good mood music’, and some older couples were even seen sitting on the terraces around the stage, sipping wine and reminiscing when John Nuvo sang the old heart-tugger ‘Wonderful Tonight’.

The leader of every float was presented with a certificate of appreciation from Chiang Mai’s Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn.

It’s break time - the audience needed some relaxation after the first part of the opening ceremonies, because there was much more to come, and to get in shape and be fit for.

Ms. Mardi Gras 2001 led the parade of dozens of Harley Davidsons and 150 Vespa Scooters during the opening party.

An estimated 3000 onlookers enjoyed the show and everyone, including the VIP’s stayed for the whole concert.

Students from the Phaha Lutai Convent chose the theme “stop to kill, save our planet” to be the theme of their Mardi Gras 2002 activities. More than 100 students from this school alone participated, and the oldest one was 17 years.

Day 3 was dedicated to the Guitar King of Thailand, Mr. Lam Morrisson. Day 4, the final day, had it all again. “Miss Mardi Gras Contest”, or was it a “Mr. Mardi Gras Contest”? One could not be so sure. But the costumes were stunning! And after all certificates were handed out by the Lord Mayor, the Governor of Chiang Mai and the Minister of Tourism and Sport, it was time for the Grand Finale - Mr. Saxman & Band! A world class musician who made the VIPs jump up from their seats in between the songs, to clap and scream for ‘encore’ along with at least 3000 other fans.

Long after midnight the Lord Mayor and his councilor Pornchai were still there, talking to the helpers, thanking people and talking about extending Mardi Gras 2003 to at least 7 days! Well, if it happens it’ll be difficult to get any sleep that week!