Joyous funeral marches a highlight of New Orleans festival
NEW ORLEANS- Amid the music, food and fanfare of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a sight some may find surprising: a funeral procession.
Fest-goers hold up cameras and iPhones as a brass band leads a procession of mourners holding photographs of their beloved departed and dancers carrying feather fans strut and sway, hoisting umbrellas and waving handkerchiefs.
Once a fixture of the city streets, the uniquely New Orleans tradition known as a jazz funeral has become common at Jazz Fest.
Two such memorial processions were held the first weekend of the festival and another is scheduled for Friday.
They start with a slow, solemn dirge, often "A Closer Walk With Thee," and then build to a celebratory street party, with up-tempo music and dancing honoring the departed.