Carnival makes a comeback in D.C.
by Stephanie Grace - Times-Picayune (excerpt)
The Washington Mardi Gras took a breather last year in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the first cancellation since the Korean War. Pent-up demand for tickets seemed to reflect a yearning for the return to normalcy -- as did the event's theme, "There's No Place Like Home."
But political junkies had another fix in mind. With this year's state elections, plus a potentially hot U.S. Senate race in 2008, some came just to watch the jockeying. The event also coincided with the new congressional leadership's reawakened focus on hurricane recovery, and provided a prime lobbying opportunity.
As always, though, the real action was at the bar, where it was easy to pick up the usual gossip, whispers of partisan sniping and fascinating chance encounters.
For Walter Leger, the Louisiana Recovery Authority's housing chairman, it was his first trip out of Louisiana since the hurricanes, other than an official voyage to see flood protection in the Netherlands. From a table with a prime view Saturday, he marveled at the cast of characters around him, networking energetically and, despite political differences, having a fine time.
"This is work," Leger said, "but it's great."