New Orleanians, who essentially celebrate Halloween every day while outsiders get to experience it once a year, are very passionate about dressing up in crazy outfits and finding any excuse to enjoy life.
Strolling down any New Orleans neighborhood on any given day you may catch a glimpse of a random man in a prom dress, a group of people dressing as several characters from a popular TV show or even a well-known politician wearing a wig, a hat, and sunglasses.
Outsiders may think the basis for this “offbeat behavior” was lost to the ages about a dozen beers ago, but in reality, there is no rhyme or reason. New Orleans just celebrates everything, every day, and costumes are a way to express it without saying a word.
“I make my costumes year-round so I always have something to wear, no matter the occasion,” Uptown resident Aryanna Gamble said.
“When I die, I’m having a costume party second line, and funeral. Everyone is invited, well as long as you dress up, and I don’t mean in boring suits and dresses unless that’s part of the getup.”
Some locals like Thomas Ryan can’t imagine living any other way.
“My ex-wife, who is from Massachusetts, got tired of me always dressing up,” said Ryan, a 32-year-old Frenchmen Street resident who has worn a Jean Lafitte pirate outfit every day since he was 19 years old because he says it feels “more natural.”
“She said it was either her or the costume — and as I said, she is now an ex. I was born and raised in New Orleans, and it just don’t feel right to not dress up.”
Ryan’s wife isn’t the only one who finds themselves at odds with the city’s joie de vivre. Confusion often runs rampant with tourists, too.
Silverton, Oregon resident Mark Andrews said that since he arrived in the Crescent City last week he can’t remember when Halloween is because all the locals he’s seen have been dressed up every day.
“I’ve seen everything from newborns straight out the delivery room to centenarians on their deathbeds dressed up in all kinds of crazy shit and all having a good time. It’s everyone. All the time. Everywhere,” said a wide-eyed Andrews.
“I didn’t even know Halloween hadn’t passed yet until you [NGN reporter] just mentioned it hasn’t. People back home only dress up once a year for Halloween, and even then most adults don’t do that once they get to be about 24. Here, it’s like being in a real-life fairytale.”
Another tourist in town this week, Carlos Lozano of Shawnee, Kansas, said this is his sixth trip to the Big Easy and he has learned to go with the flow.
“Most of what I saw when I first came to New Orleans didn’t make any sense whatsoever, like why would a husky man walking through the French Market in the middle of a Wednesday be wearing a prom dress?” Lozano said.
“I learned you don’t ask questions. You just roll with it. Then, all of a sudden, it hooks you right in the heart and you’re in love.”
Founded on May 7, 1718, New Orleans is ready to celebrate Halloween just like any other day, for the 111,565th day in a row.