The first I went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans… What I expected was a weekend of girls gone wild type activity and some terrible decisions that would lead me to avoid all mirrors and contact with anyone human for a while. Not that I do those types of activities often or ever. My only ever exposure to what it would be like were real world, movies, and the sad imitations that other cities try to recreate. What I experience there in real life was actually quite the opposite and was very pleasant! I was lucky enough to have a friend that lives there now who is enrolled in a master’s program at Tulane. More lucky in that she lived off of most of the parade routes! So most of my day was spent cheering at floats, watching the marching bands go by and of course, catching stuff off of the floats. There seems to be a trick to catching the really cool stuff that the natives of New Orleans have figured out over the years.
1st– Kids get EVERYTHING!
2nd– Costume people get more attention because they stand out
3rd– Decorated ladders make you taller, therefore, you catch everything before it reaches the people below you
4th– Catching things is so competitive, setting up your stuff the night before is very common
5th– Having a chair/seat is crucial, because standing up all day is super draining especially if you’re drinking
MOST IMPORTANT-If you touched it, but dropped it, you can pick it up. NEVER just pick beads or stuff up. Why? It’s bad luck and highly frowned upon.
I arrived there on Friday and I left Wednesday completely drained. I was so consumed with the goal of the next great float souvenir I neglected my thirst for alcoholic beverages. I dragged myself away to nibble on hors d’oeuvres and coconut water. One night we decided to venture down into the French Quarter because I could not possibly leave without seeing Bourbon Street. What I found there was not so impressive. Sailing on the sea of uncaught beads, grime, and garbage I ventured around checking out the different bars and clubs. I’m sure without the hazard of the beads and the fear of slipping on them I would have definitely had a lot more fun that night.
The people of New Orleans were all pretty friendly and overall I had a fantastic time! I would definitely recommend everyone to experience it during Mardi Gras or any other time of the year. Essence Festival for example this year will have Kendrick Lamar performing and if I wasn’t going to be busy this summer I would definitely find myself going! I haven’t even begun to describe the delicious local cuisines which are definitely worth a blog of their own!
The idea for this came from the practice of Carnival, which is a Christian religious festive season going back hundreds of years. It is during time that people celebrated as a community and indulged in their whims for the few weeks before the beginning of the Lent season. The actual day of Mardi Gras or “fat Tuesday” is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The day of Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lent season. Then during Lent those activities were given up. The theory is that the weeks of Mardi Gras were to help the people of the communities get their fill of everything they were about to give up during Lent until Easter. For more of the history of Mardi Gras and how it came to be an actual holiday in the city of New Orleans check out ww.mardigrasneworleans.com.