Mardi Gras (belated)

Sorry for being absent from the blog. Life gave me some hiccups and I had to adjust fire and continue on. But I’m back! Maybe not better than ever but at least no worse for the wear. I want to spend a few minutes catching you up on a few things I did before the disappearing act.

Mardi Gras was the BIG EVENT! WOW! Because had never been, I had all sorts of preconceived notions of what it was. I thought it was just one day of endless parades. I envisioned half naked women baring breasts all day long for the hordes of adoring fans standing on balconies above them. I pictured drunks peeing on the street corner, unable to find a public bathroom. I imagined all sorts of debauchery in the streets, amateur directors creating new Girls Gone Wild videos, and little old ladies whacking the backs of kneecaps to steal beads from unsuspecting tourists falling to the ground. Side note* my mother and her partner used to go to Mardi Gras every year and come back with brown paper bags filled with beads. She was five foot nothing and weighed 88 lbs soaking wet with rocks in her pocket. She had no boobs to speak of so I always used to tease her and say “I don’t want to know how you got all these beads but don’t let me catch you on an episode of Moms Gone Wild!” And I wouldn’t have put it past her to whack a few kneecaps with her cane to help boost her loot!

In fact, it is a month log celebration with parades scheduled almost daily. Bakeries jockeying for title of best King Cake award. Celebrations, parties, and grand Balls. It’s akin to adult sororities aka societies throwing the party of all parties. Each parade has its own theme and each theme is associated with a society. Each society throws their own Ball. This happens all month long.

On actual Mardi Gras day, there are parades that run one after the other, and it is an all-day affair. My friend Alex came to visit and we were invited to go to the parade with a co-worker and her family. I was so ill prepared for how momentous the day was going to be and how much work and preparation went in to making it successful.

For starters, Alex and I bought a king cake and alcohol to contribute to the festivities. I worked the night before so when I got off work at 0730, Alex picked me up from work and we went straight to my friend’s house. She and her two cousins were there getting ready. I changed clothes and we packed up the car with chairs, food and drinks. We drove to the area where her other family members had set up camp. It took several miles of driving, a few detours and some well-placed words before we found a suitable parking spot close enough to our intended destination. Luckily, there was enough hands and arms to carry everything we packed, not to mention we were in relatively good shape so the encumbered walk was manageable. Note to self, next year I am buying an all-terrain wagon to load up supplies and help navigate the streets and sidewalks. (I mentioned in an earlier blog posting about the trees taking over in some sidewalks)

We arrive to our destination around 0900 and unload. Alex and I get introduced to everyone there and that is when it becomes evident the amount of effort and preplanning and downright dedication it takes to pull this off! The space we were inhabiting was like a campsite; complete with chairs, tables, grills, awnings for shade and a rented port-a-potty in someone’s driveway two blocks away. And food. Did I mention food? They had staked their claim to this little plot of land the night before, started cooking and then slept there, outside under the stars, to prevent anyone else from taking it over. Continued cooking the next day and I swear the food did not stop coming until the last parade train rolled past. All day long family members and friends kept streaming in and out. Bringing more food and alcohol and celebrating the day. Kids and adults of all ages were collecting beads and dancing. Music played, laughter rang out and the parade kept coming.

Believe it or not, I managed to stay awake until around 1630 (4:30pm). I felt my body starting to shut down so I decided to walk to the car and sleep. I was leaving Alex in good company and figured everyone can wake me up when the get back to the car. When I reached the car, there was a speaker blaring out loud music literally across the street but at that point, I had been up 22 straight hours and I couldn’t function anymore. I hopped in the car and passed out cold until they woke me up about two hours later. The day was a success. I walked away with a haul of beads and toys that would have made my mother proud. Alex was sufficiently drunk, looking like a Dominican Mr T. We drove everyone home and limped back to my apartment and promptly fell asleep again. I think it took us all the next day to recover but it was well worth it.

Alex and I came up with and after action report on where to improve for next year. We have a game plan and will not be unprepared again. Mardi Gras is coming! 

Note* These are but a few of the pics I took. Way too many to post!

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