Print this page

Steel Pony Express VII – Halloween N'awlins Style

Written by  November 30, 2004

When I arrived in New Orleans on Thursday night, October 28, we went to The Dock to check out the welcome party for the rally. After looking at the schedule of events, I was disappointed to see that the rally grounds closed around 8 p.m. every night. But then I started thinking and figured out that the organizers knew exactly what they were doing when they planned the schedule. Who wants to be at the rally after 8 p.m. when that’s about the time the French Quarter is just gettin’ started. This, as it turned out, is exactly how our Friday and Saturday nights were spent. Each evening after the rally, we would go back to our hotel and put the bikes to bed.

After having a few drinks on the patio at our hotel on Friday night, we walked to the French Quarter with our new biker friends and hotel mates, Leigh and Lynn Lilly from Birmingham, Alabama. We ate dinner at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and met up with Goldie and the rest of the crew to see the band. When the band took a break, we were off to Pat O’Brien’s for one of their world famous drinks, the Hurricane. The flaming fountain on the patio made it so hot in the 80 degree heat, that we couldn’t stay there long. So we left and headed across the street to the Velvet Dog, which seemed to be a favorite among the bikers.

After walking up and down a couple of other streets, we figured it was past time to hit the 12 blocks of Bourbon Street. It was packed, and so were the balconies. How they hold that many people without collapsing is beyond me. But who cares, we were off to find our own spot on a balcony at the Tropical Isle, where their signature drink is the Hand Grenade. You should try one!

Great sounds could be heard from most of the bars as we walked by. One in particular was the Funky Pirate, where Big Al Carson and his band were beltin’ out the blues. Farther down the street was the Famous Door, where Rockbox was playing your favorite 80s hits. Mike and Greg finally dragged me out of there around 4 a.m. They said tomorrow was the big night, so we had to save our energy.

On Saturday night, we donned our Halloween costumes and headed out. Not wanting to miss any action, we went straight to Bourbon Street. Since the Funky Pirate and Big Al were so great on Friday, we started there. You’ll never guess who we saw in the courtyard? Frank and Mary Hicks of F.O.G. Cycles! They had just flown in that day from Kansas City to visit some friends. What a small world!

Back out on the street, the parade of costumes was amazing. Everything from Shrek to Zsa Zsa to Wonder Woman and the Pope. Elvis could be seen wearing various attire and the cops just took it all in, while riding through the crowd on horseback. I did ask them how this compares to Mardi Gras, and was told that Halloween is the second largest event in New Orleans. We passed Club 735, which had a huge line out front to get in. I was curious to see why, but maybe next time.

We finally met up with the rest of the crew at the Five O’clock Grill, where we celebrated Jerry’s birthday. But I had to make it back to Famous Door to see Rockbox again. When we got there, someone’s dream bike was parked right in front. I tracked down the owner to have a chat. His name was Walter Calicut from Houston, Texas and his bike was named the “Dragon Slayer.” Walter designed it himself and had Snake Custom Cycles in Houston, Texas build it for him. Yes, that’s a real sword in the sissy bar that detaches anytime Walter needs to slay a dragon. I asked him if he’s slain any dragons since he’s been in New Orleans, to which he replied, “Do you see any around?” Fair enough!

We stayed at Famous Door until Rockbox started tearing down around 4:30 a.m. Thanks guys for hanging with me for two nights in a row. Mike and Greg had such a good time that they decided to stay Sunday night and come home on Monday. Woe is me, as I had to be back in the classroom by 8 a.m. on Monday morning, so the drive to the airport came early on Sunday (8 a.m.) to catch my flight back to Kansas City.

I have been to New Orleans three times before, but this time was extraordinary. If you ever get a chance to attend the Steel Pony Express Rally, take it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. As they say in N’awlins, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”

Story by Margaret Liggett

Photos by Mike Schweder and Bart