Dubai's Mardi Gras Parade 1978
By 1978 Dubai had a significant American Expatriate Community associated with Dubai's growing Oil and Gas Industries. Many of this Community came from Louisiana and Texas where Mardi Gras is a tradition. In 1978 Dubai's American Community organised their Dubai version of a Mardi Gras Parade through the streets of Jumeirah.
Dubai's Petroleum Wives Club - Mardi Gras Organisers
Dubai's American Community developed around Companies developing Dubai's Oil and Gas Industries. These Companies established and supported Jumeirah American School and Dubai Petroleum Wives Club (PWC), a social Club for Dubai's growing international Community in 1867. Back then Dubai's Employment Laws generally prevented wives from taking employment since they were sponsored by their husbands. PWC provided social activities and support for wives. Although initially restricted to wives of of and gas companies' employees, PWC membership was broadened to wives of all companies in Dubai.
Mardi Gras Parade assembled by the (old) Jumeirah American School. Led by the traditional "Flambeaus", the Parade began to move through Jumeirah's suburban streets accompanied by the Dubai Police Pipe Band. McDermott Swingers Softball Team had a "Float" on the parade. Softball was started by Dubai's American Community in 1975. The Team competed in the Dubai Softball League. Mardi Gras Parade makes its way past the boundary wall of the old Jumeirah American School. The School has since relocated to the Al Barsha area and the old Jumeirah American School building demolished. Mardi Gras Parade makes it way onto Jumeirah Beach Road from Dubai Zoo Road, moving slowly along Jumeirah Beach Road trailed by Horse Riders and children on small motorbikes. No one seemed too concerned about young children driving "off road" motorbikes along Jumeirah Road in 1978!
Mardi Gras Ball at Astoria Hotel
PWC took responsibility for organising the traditional Mardi Gras Ball which traditionally takes place the evening before the Mardi Gras Parade. Dubai's newly opened Astoria Hotel's Ballroom was chosen as the venue. This Mardi Gras Ball was the first major event Astoria Hotel had hosted. Hurricane Glasses from Pat O'Brien’s in New Orleans' French Quarter were flown in to add authenticity to the evening plus Hurricane Mix for the traditional “Hurricane” drinks. PWC's Ladies decorated the Astoria's Ballroom with plywood sheets on which they had painted scenes of the New Orleans' French Quarter scenes to create a New Orleans “Bourbon Street” facade.
Route of Dubai's Mardi Gras Parade 1978
The Mardi Gras Parade assembled at the American School in Jumeirah then, led by the Dubai Police Pipe Band, slowly made its way around the limited roads in Jumeirah. In 1978 Jumeirah was mostly inhabited by Expatriates. Everyone came out to watch and enjoy the Parade irrespective of their Nationality. Truck Mounted Floats, bicycles, motorcycles, horses and people formed the Parade that slowly made its way along Jumeirah Beach Road.The Mardi Gras Parade did not have a Dubai Police Traffic Escort. In those days the traffic along Jumeirah Beach Road was sparse.