Last Saturday Kurt and I decided on a whim to go baptize me in the beaded streets of New Orleans. It’s a rite of passage here in Louisiana if you plan to stick around and call yourself a “local”…so off we went…I’m claiming my locality one festivity at a time and Mardi Gras…you’re up!
The only thing I knew of this yearly celebration was that Mardi Gras is french for Fat Tuesday…it’s a detoxing of all your “partying” before Ash Wednesday…which begins the season of Lent…which lasts 40 days and participants give up something as a religious act of devotion? …Not totally sure, but I think I’m close. The only thing I knew about braving New Orleans during this event was that there might be boob sightings, drunkenness, and a parade of floats carrying passengers wearing outlandish costumes while tossing beads at the crowd. I text my 225 squad for some pointers and their responses were…
“Have fun… Protect your face from getting pelted with beads… Don’t show your boobs for beads.”
I laughed… good advice. I’ve made it through the past 3 years of penny-scraping without resorting to showing them for income purposes, so I can assure you I’m not taking them out of their cage for some plastic beads. And anyway… beads were EVERYWHERE…free for the taking…thrown to you…at you… there is zero reason to show your boobs…boobs are being shown simply to get out all the naughty before you go play church.
Fully clothed and heedfully sober, the gods of endymion smiled upon us the entire time. We scored a spot in a parking garage right smack dab in the middle of it all which eliminated the expected hike.
My camera was the catalyst for making some festive new friends…
these friends led to Kurt scoring a beer…which led to bumping into a group that offered great conversation and insight into the history of New Orleans…which led to enough time for both of us to consider the porta potty. Wishing we had visited during it’s inaugural hours we vetoed this and went searching for an alternative.
This is where it gets even sweeter…we take a stroll down St. Charles Ave and happen upon Marcello’s…looks like a decent place to find a lavatory and enjoy a glass of pinot.
While squeezed in at the end of the bar a gentleman came up beside me and poured himself a glass of red wine.
“Oh, is it open bar?”
“No, it is not…I tried that once…charged $25 a head and lost money.”
“You. You tried that. So I guess this is your restaurant.”
“Hello. I’m Gina.”
“Hello Gina….I’m Gino.”
He walks away and Kurt says…
“You should go ask him how much he would charge to let us go up on the balcony and watch the parade.”
…in which I do…and he replies…
“I’m sorry, the balcony is a private party rented out by Jim Beam.”
I retreat back to my bar stool only to have him come fetch me two minutes later…
“Come with me. I’m going to take you up there but if anyone asks you to leave you don’t argue. You just leave.”
Yes sir, Gino…
He tells the security officer…”They’re with me.”
So basically we’re golden. We’re in. We have the best view. We are across from the DJ.
We are in Mardi Gras heaven….
The parade stalled a couple of times but honestly this was a highlight. Directly in front of us were local high school bands putting on a serious show…they had an audience and they were showing off…big time…I would buy tickets to their performance and here I am front row, close enough to touch, hanging out on the balcony of Marcello’s with the Who’s Who Diddly Do’s of Jim Beam… with my man…draped in colorful beads…surrounded by happy people of all ages.
Happy People make me happy.
For all the Mardi Gras maidens afraid of what you might be exposed to if you ever decide to brave the scenery…let me tell you…there is more than one way to appreciate this tradition. Just like anything, you can make it as clean or dirty as you want…I like my martinis dirty and my Mardi Gras clean.
Here’s how to keep it that way:
- Stay up town for the PG-13 version
- Have fun but be aware of your surroundings
- You can bring your kids but PLEASE keep them with you and pay attention. There is an ENORMOUS crowd. I saw families with all their kids in tow…I would not have brought my girls when they were young but that’s just me…I’m the mom who sanitized my kids after every ride at Six Flags
- and on that note…bring hand sanitizer
- bring water.
- bring a bag to tote your beads
- be friendly
- enjoy the experience
- appreciate the amount of effort that this city puts into maintaining a tradition that began in the 1730’s
- Don’t drink and drive so we can all go again next year…and so you can read more of my wonderful blogs.
AND…if you must go take a peek down Bourbon Street, please don’t go alone…
***all images are original and were taken by me! Credit appreciated if you care to use them. THANKS!