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 measure of devotion…Not totally sure, but I think I’m close. Much like other states think us Texans ride horses and wear 10-gallon hats, I thought New Orleans would be a topless land of drunkenness with a parade of floats carrying passengers in outlandish costumes while tossing beads at the crowd. I had to see it for myself.
I text my 225 squad for some pointers and insight 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 and no worries…
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 about the history of New Orleans…which led to enough time for both of us to need a visit to the port-a-potty. Wishing we had visited during it’s inaugural hours we vetoed this decision 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… This looks like a decent place to find a lavatory and enjoy a glass of pinot.
I’m squeezed in at the end of the bar when a gentleman comes up beside me and helps himself to 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.”
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, deliver the news that we will be watching from the streets like the rest of the peasants, only to have Gino 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.
We walk past one of the 10 security officers…“They’re with me.”
Yes. We. Are.
We are with him.
So basically we’re golden. We’re in. We have the best view. We are across from the DJ, close enough to touch the tops of the floats and high above the crowds beneath us.
WE ARE UPPER CRUST, HIGH SOCIETY MARDI GRAS BY PROXY.
Happy People make me happy.
For all the Mardi Gras Maidens afraid of what you might be exposed to if you decide to brave the scenery…let me tell you…there is MORE THAN ONE WAY to appreciate this tradition.
MY BEST ADVICE:
- Stay up town for the PG-13 version
- Wear a cross body bag or fanny pack to keep your wallet, keys close.
- 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 also 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 if beads you want to tote
- 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…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!