From the category archives:

Events

Mardi Gras Mentoring: How To Kill Time Between Parades

by Alan Rider

If you’re headed to New Orleans for Mardi Gras weekend, you’re in for a real treat.  I can tell you from personal experience that I sincerely doubt there’s a friendlier place or happier time on the face of the planet.
By this point you probably already know the two dozen parades that roll through the city’s streets between now and Fat Tuesday are the big attraction here (if you need parade info, check out my friend Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide).  What you might be wondering, however, is what to do with yourself in the hours before or after all those floats roll by.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share [...]

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Extraordinary Event: Spain's La Tomatina Festival

by Alan Rider

Last night’s post-Super Bowl celebrations in the streets of the French Quarter may have gotten a little wild, but it’s a safe bet they looked downright sedate compared to Spain’s La Tomatina Festival.
Each year on the last Wednesday in August, as many as 40,000 people pack the streets of the tiny town of Bruñol to pelt each other with their share of 45 tons of tomatoes.  In other words, the annual event is essentially the world’s biggest food fight.
Well, it turns out my friend Susie Wyshak was right there in the middle of all the action last year.  Her website, SuperViva.com, is built around the really cool idea of creating [...]

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A Mind-Blowing Mardi Gras: How To Go From Spectator To Participant in One of New Orleans’ Glitziest Parades

by Alan Rider

I’m looking out at a sea of outstretched arms and upturned faces.  The noise is just this side of deafening, a long pulsating chorus of “Hey, Hey, Hey!”  In response to their pleadings, I’m chucking handfuls of cheap plastic trinkets at the crowd while dressed in an outfit so garish it would make your average clown costume look downright somber.
If this sounds like something straight out of one of those freaky dreams where you wake up sweating and shaking your head, well, you’re close.  Except this surreal scene was very real.  And very, very fun.
You see, while I’d been to a lot of Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans over [...]

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Going Out With A Bang: Contest Lets Lucky Winner Blow Up Texas Stadium

by Alan Rider

Not sure what it is about human nature, but it seems we’re genetically hard-wired for an attraction to things that go BOOM!  Now, a new contest is offering one lucky person what very well may be the ultimate extraordinary experience: A chance to set off an explosion that will literally bring the house down.
You see, the folks at Kraft Foods have just signed a deal that will allow the winner of an essay contest to push a button that will turn Texas Stadium, former home of the Dallas Cowboys, into a pile of rubble.  The blast that triggers the implosion is scheduled to happen this spring in front of a [...]

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So Much Hot Air!

by Alan Rider

Just a quick note for all those folks headed to this weekend’s 38th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 3-11).  As cool as you think it is to watch from the edges of the field as 700 hot air balloons from 17 countries lift off—and it is among the coolest spectacles you’ll ever witness—you simply must spring for one of the balloon rides that go up in the middle of each morning’s mass ascensions!
Now I know what you’re thinking: You’ve been up in a hot air balloon before and, while it was great fun, you’re not sure you really wanna lay out the dough for another balloon ride.  Well, trust [...]

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Spaced Out

by Alan Rider

Next week’s launch of the space shuttle Discovery reminds me of a lesson I learned the hard way earlier this year:  Trying to catch one of NASA’s handful of remaining space shuttle launches isn’t as easy as it sounds.
You see, Murphy’s Law caused last February’s Discovery mission to be postponed again and again, until I had to settle for having lunch with an astronaut and riding the shuttle simulator at the Kennedy Space Center.  Both enjoyable and recommended, but …sigh…not exactly the extraordinary experience I was hoping for.
Of course, there is one sure-fire way to guarantee yourself a front-row seat for a future space shot.  For a cool $170 million, [...]

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Up In Smoke

by Alan Rider

No, I’m not talking about that late-70s cult classic starring Cheech and Chong.  In fact, the upcoming Burning Man festival in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert makes that once-outrageous comedy look positively quaint by comparison.

The annual spectacle, which runs from August 31st to September 7th this year, takes its name from the 80-foot wooden “man” organizers set ablaze on the festival’s final night.  But while that giant bonfire provides a focal point for this gathering of nearly 50,000 free spirits 100 miles north of Reno, it’s only a small part of the story.
At its core, Burning Man is a week-long experiment in utopian ideals like freedom [...]

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