Chris Rose: New Orleans traditions

Witnessing Dirty Linen Night and the Red Dress Run this weekend - and Satchmo Fest last - I was reminded that I love New Orleans' fervent embrace of tradition.

And that we've never been content to commemorate only our antiquated heritage - Reveillion, St. Joseph's Day Alters, the Bayou Classic - but that "traditions" are among the chief goods and services manufactured in our contemporary economy.

There always seems to be a new celebration on the calendar, wherein a band of zealous revelers organizes a one-off folly to recognize an under-appreciated or often truly obscure - person or event.

Then, by serendipity or determination - or just because everyone got howling drunk and had the time of their lives - such an event morphs, seemingly overnight, into a highly anticipated annual event.

The rise of the Ponderosa Stomp, Tales of the Cocktail and the St. Joan of Arc Fete make formerly cutting edge gatherings such as Southern Decadence, Essence and Tennessee Williams Festival now seem almost old-timey themselves.

Give me the Tennessee Ernie Ford festival any day. Or the Running of the "Bulls." Or Chazfest.

The real New Orleans stamp on these observances is that folks don't just watch the proceedings but, if they have the right clothes - and attitude - can be part of it.

It all makes me lament a handful of worthy jubilees that never got proper momentum and fell by the wayside.

Tennessee Ernie Ford was one, at which revelers sang the country crooner's staple hit, "Sixteen Tons," every thirty minutes in honor of a man who had no discernible ties to New Orleans at all.

Or Shemp Fest, the rustic throw-down in Donaldsonville that honored the forgotten - or fourth - member of the Three Stooges.

Or Shellfest, the impromptu block party and disco stomp that fired up at the gas station on Esplanade Avenue outside the Fair Grounds every day after Jazz Fest shut down.

And then there's my personal favorite, perhaps because I created it myself: The Day Before Thoth Masquerade Golf Tournament, which should be self-explanatory.

It drew sixty players in its prime, but unfortunately collapsed under the pressure that has killed many a worthy commemoration in our nation's history: Our wives wouldn't let us do it anymore.

New Orleans soldiers on without us.