Super Sunday is the second biggest day for the Mardi Gras Indian tribes to show off their elaborate suits, all custom made and hand beaded by each member. One man had to work harder than anyone else to make his debut this Sunday.
Bennie Ratcliff dreamed of being a Mardi Gras Indian at nine years old. In 1989, his life changed forever. Bullets from the street drug war tore thorough his spinal cord. That was before he reformed his life. In February 2012, while in physical and occupational therapy at Touro, he created a tool so he could start beading his suit.
Now, with the help of friends, his big day has come.
"To me, it's like hitting the lottery, a million dollars to me. Able to do something that, I seen and that I want to do. Anything that I get involved with, I become passionate with it," Ratcliff said from his wheelchair.
On Super Sunday, the new Ninth Ward Navajo Hunters member will reveal his suit with his personal story and sacred and secret artwork. His theme: thanking the Native Americans for helping his enslaved African ancestors. He is supported by the spy boy from his tribe, who taught himself how to bead and sew his elaborate suit.
"Awe, it's going to be a blessing 'cause I've been messing with him ever since I come home. And I told him, just because you at the way you are, you ain't no different from me. And just like how I got to do with any other Indians, I'm gonna do him the same thing," said Jacob Toler Sr., the Spy Boy for the Ninth Ward Navajo Hunters.
Even a Chief from a competitive tribe is cheering Bennie on.
"One thing I saw in him immediately was the fact that it, the sky, was the limit in terms of what it is he can do. I've never heard him one time complain about one thing," said Chief Shaka Zulu, the third chief of the Yellow Pocahontas tribe.
But on Super Sunday, no matter the friendship, when they hit the streets, it's game on.
"The beautiful thing is that any street credibility you can get when you're dealing with African American carnival traditions in New Orleans is much bigger than an award. To get a trophy is one thing but for the streets to say that you're the best, means a lot more than a trophy," said Zulu.
Super Sunday starts at noon in A.L. Davis Park at Washington Avenue and LaSalle street.
It's estimated that as many as 80 percent of the Indian tribes from Uptown and downtown will gather.
Some of the Indians travel around the world to show off their hand work and to perform.